Sticky Teams

Sticky Teams by Larry Osborne might be one of the best and most thorough books I’ve ever read on church leadership. Osborne has been a pastor at the same church for 30 years and Sticky Teams is what he has learned over the years about staffing, vision casting, leading teams, elders, hiring and firing and everything in between.

Osborne is the guy who came up with the idea of comparing games (running, golf, basketball and football) and how they coincide with church leadership teams to understand what game you are playing. This concept is worth the price of the book. Understanding what game you are playing explains so many problems that occur within churches and how to keep everyone on the same page, excited, happy and moving forward together.

The problem as Osborne points out, unity is difficult to gain on a team, especially in a church. The reasons are many, but getting it can only happen if one thing is true:  unity on a team must be the number one priority. This means, as a team (and as a leader) you must decide what will be the unifying factor of your team. Each church and ministry has what is the win for their ministry. Decide what that is, be clear about it and place your flag in that hill. The reality is (and no one wants to admit this, even though it is true) whatever you make as the win for your church or ministry will excite some and make other want to run for the door (or dig in their heels, depending on their spiritual gift :). The question as Osborne points out in leadership is not if you will lose people over a decision or vision, but who you will lose.

His chapter on leadership paradox’s was great. They were:

  1. Ignore your weaknesses
  2. Surveys are a waste of time
  3. Seek permission, not buy-in
  4. Let squeaky wheels squeak (this is so true)
  5. Let dying programs die
  6. Plan in pencil (this has become a favorite line of mine)

One of my favorite parts of the book was his section on plumb lines. The importance of it will definitely need another blog post (stay tuned). In Osborne’s opinion, mission statements are not the most important thing for a church or leader to write out. It is plumb lines. The culture of a church or organization will determine how decisions are made, not the mission statement. This is so true.

This book will definitely be added to the reading list for potential elders and staff members (as well as current ones).

Leaders Who Last

Just wrapped up Leaders who Last by Dave Kraft. Well worth the time. Over the past year as I have had friends and collegaues fall out of ministry or quit and as other more well known pastors have quit or fallen out, I have become increasingly concerned with my spiritual, emotional, sexual, relational and mental health. For me, being a pastor is not a job or a hobby. It is a great calling on my life that I want to finish well. I hope to stand before God and hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” When Katie and I started Revolution, our goal was (and still is) to retire from Revolution.

Kraft defines a Christian leader as, “A humble, God-dependent, team-playing servant of God who is called by God to shepherd, develop, equip, and empower a specific group of believers to accomplish an agreed upon vision from God.”

What he then does in the book is walk through several areas to accomplish this. The point of Christian leadership, like running Kraft says, “Is to finish the race, not just start it.” For me, that was a powerful metaphor. I know so many pastors who seem content to either start the leadership race overall or start the race at the church they are at or planted, but have no plans to finish it.

So, how do you finish well? According to Kraft, you need 3 things:

  1. Maintaining a vibrant and rich walk with Jesus.
  2. Having a solid relational network that includes at least one good friend with whom you can bare your soul.
  3. Making a lasting and God honoring contribution in your areas of passion and gifting.

He covered a variety of topics from spiritual gifts and talents, integrity, boundaries, vision, and developing leaders. The section that I read twice and grabbed me was the chapter on how a leader handles his time.

According to Kraft there are 5 types of people who a pastor/leader can spend time with:

  1. Resourceful people
  2. Important people
  3. Trainable people
  4. Nice people
  5. Draining people

The problem for many pastors is that they make “a serious mistake. They spend their time with the wrong people. The nice people are pleasant to be with, and the draining people requested so much time, leaders have little prime time left with for the resourceful and trainable people. None of the latter two make demands on the leader that the first two make. And because they make so few protests, leaders leave them alone as a rule because they think they are where they are needed most; an error of great magnitude.”

What he points out and what I am learning a lot recently is that who you spend your time with will make or break your ministry. As a pastor, there is always someone else to help, to counsel, to meet with, to talk to. As a leader, I am entrusted with the responsibility of choosing who I spend my time with. I cannot allow other people to make that choice for me. If I do, I will spend time with the wrong people. Kraft points out, “The people you spend the majority of your time with can and will determine whether you are an effective or ineffective leader.”

Recently, the elders reworked my job description to clarify how I am to spend my time. How much time I am to spend in sermon prep, meetings, leadership development, who I am supposed to meet with, who I am to pass off to other leaders and what responsibilities I should be a part of and what responsibilities I should delegate. Every person who comes to Revolution needs to be cared for and taken care of, but I am not capable of doing it alone, nor should I meet with everyone. That is why there are other leaders, small groups, elders and staff.

Kraft ended this particular chapter with a list of what highly ineffective leaders do:

  1. They spend too much time managing and not enough time leading.
  2. They spend too much time counseling the hurting and not enough time developing people with potential.
  3. They spend too much time putting out fires and not enough time lighting fires.
  4. They spend too much time doing and not enough time planning.
  5. They spend too much time teaching the crowd and not enough time training the core.
  6. They spend too much time doing it themselves and not enough time doing it through others.
  7. They make too decisions based on organizational policies and too few decisions based on biblical principles.

So how does an effective leader of a growing church allocate his/her time? By doing 3 things:

  1. Teaching and communicating
  2. Equipping and training other (leaders)
  3. Vision casting

The leader then needs to give everything else away.

What is encouraging after reading this book is that we are moving in this direction at Revolution.

For me, chapter 11 was worth the price of the book.

Still not convinced? Here is an interview with Dave Kraft from The Resurgence on the book.

If you are a leader at a church or business, this is definitely worth picking up. A great, fast read that will definitely challenge your leadership.

Meet the Revolution Staff

This past Saturday, I got to talk about how Revolution is structured and what the means. I am incredibly blessed to have so many great leaders to work with. Without these leaders buying into the vision, buying into me and putting in all the time that they do, Revolution would cease to exist.

I talked about how Revolution is an elder protected, staff led church, what that means and why that matters. How things are structured at a church makes all the difference.

Each of these team members oversee many other teams. While it would have been great to talk about everyone, we did that before when I preached on Nehemiah 3 (which you can listen to here). On Saturday, I wanted to talk about the main leaders as our leadership team has grown and changed over the last few months to help us staff for growth (if you haven’t read this before, go and read this and come back).

The staff team helps in overseeing the day to day operation known as Revolution. All the ministries, follow-up, everything. Whatever it takes to keep the ship moving in the right direction.

In case you missed Saturday or don’t know who they are, here are some snippets:

Cody is the newest addition to the team. He is in the back middle. He oversees Rev Up, our student ministry, which launched two weeks ago. I cannot tell you how excited I am about this new ministry and what it will mean for Revolution and the lives of teenagers and their families. Cody has a huge personality and lights up every room with his energy and southern accent. By birth, he is a huge Bama fan. I am still trying to learn southern sayings without laughing, but he’s helping. He has dreams of getting me to like country music, but…

Paul is on the far left and he is our Pastor of Worship & Arts. He oversees everything that happens on Saturday:  the music, arts, videos, first impressions, set up and tear down. Paul is a massive Texas anything sports fan. He is also a secretly great basketball player. Don’t let his height fool you, if you are picking teams and he is there, pick him first. He will drain every 3 he takes.

Jennifer is in front of him, she goes with Paul. We all know why he picked her, but the jury is still out. She oversees Planet Rev which is our ages 0 – 5th grade ministry. This encompasses the largest volunteer team in our church and almost a third of our church. It is a huge undertaking every week to create a safe, secure, fun environment for kids to hear about Jesus in ways that make sense to them and partner with parents as they disciple their kids.

Christe is next to her. Christe is the glue that holds it all together. She is our admin. Without her, we would not last very long. She oversees all the details, keeping us on track. She oversees countless volunteers in the area of graphics, printing, marketing tools, any flyers, all of the follow-up we do. In many ways, she is becoming my right arm on so many projects for our church. The addition of Christe is huge for me personally as a leader and our church. She frees me up to do so many other things and takes the jobs (details) that I get lost in and she makes them fall into place.

As I said, I am incredibly grateful for the leaders I get to work with. The talent that God has assembled at Revolution is unbelievable. I hear from many pastors who can’t find good leaders, who have lazy leaders or aren’t passionate about the vision or the church. When I look at the leaders I get to work with, I thank God that I don’t have that problem with anyone at Revolution.

If you see these guys this Saturday, say thanks to them. They work hard (along with all the volunteers on their teams) to make Revolution happen. Their hearts are to serve you, the guests that walk through our front door and our city. They want to see lives changed.

Keep up the good work. Remember Revolutionaries, Saturday is coming. God has given us the opportunity to be a part of changing lives and eternities every week.

This Weekend: Completion, Critics & Continuation

This Saturday at Revolution will be a transition of sorts we continue our series in the book of Nehemiah. Chapters 1 – 6 and 13 are believed to be from Nehemiah’s personal journal and we will wrap up chapter 6 this week. While 6:15 – 7:4 may seem like an arbitrary passage where Nehemiah shares that the wall is built and how they are progressing from there, it has unbelievable ramifications for us as a church.

Revolution has already started and we are growing, but how does that continue? How is Revolution structured? What is our plan to grow? To connect new people?

Many churches unknowingly limit what God wants to do in their church by how they structure and staff themselves. This week, we’ll be looking at how we will grow and care for people and how we plan to get from 120 (where we are now) to 300 (where we hope to be at the end of 2010)!

We’ll also look at a simple question, “What is your role in that?” For us to do what God is calling us to do, it will take all of us. A city (the church) does not get built by a few people. This will be a great night of clarifying who we are, where we have come from, where we are going and how we plan to get there. This is such a crucial topic as we consider what God wants to do in and through Revolution and how it will unfold.

So, do whatever you have to do to get to Revolution this Saturday night (and don’t forget to bring a friend with you)!

Remember, we meet at 5pm at 410 S. Pantano Rd.

See you then.

It Matters Who is Around You

Any leader worth his/her salt will tell you that who is around them makes all the difference. The team you build, the leaders who work alongside of you will make or break you.

For many pastors, being a pastor is incredibly lonely. They carry a weight few people understand. Much of the loneliness comes from the reality of the job, but it also comes from them not being willing to build a team. But the success of every leader, every church, every organization will rise and fall on the leaders around that leader.

I was reminded of this last night.

As an elder team, we recently updated my job description to deal with the growth we’ve experienced, as well as to set some realistic goals and objectives. Last night, we spent some time reviewing and how it was going, as well as reflecting on the last 16 months as a church. Talking through our goals, where we are with them, how the progress is going, our dreams, our joys as a team, leaders and a church, as well as our disappointments.

A lot of laughter and some moments that made us all pause as we thought on God’s goodness and protection, but also the heartache that comes with leading and shepherding people. It was one of those holy moments as a leader that makes you think, “I love what I do and who I get to do it with.” Very few pastors can say this.

I think for a couple of reasons. As leaders, we are control freaks. We always want to have the power and control. The idea of giving some of that away to highly capable people is scary. The idea of opening up and being vulnerable flies in the face of what many leaders feel. Yet, without doing these two things, you will never reach your full potential as a leader or as a church.

All of the men you see above have bought into, not only me as a leader, but to the vision of Revolution. Getting a church off the ground is an incredibly difficult path. The journey we have been on has had unbelievable highs and incredible lows. We have sacrificed time, money, energy to make it happen. We have lost friends along the way who no longer wanted to be on the journey, which is by far the most difficult aspect of leadership and church planting. But, one of the things that pushes us is that we are doing it together.

One of our values at Revolution is community. Now I know that every church says this is a value. Here is how you know if it is a value, does the rest of the church (not just the leaders) show that it is a value. Values trickle down from the top. The law of the lid says no one goes higher than the leaders. At our elder meetings, we start off by answering 3 questions:  What is God teaching me right now? How did I do at serving my family in the last month? How can we pray for you and your family? This has created a vulnerability and openness that is difficult to get to when you bring a group of guys together.

Here is the point, if you are a leader, you can’t do it alone. Anything worthwhile will take more than you to get done. Find some other people to help pull the rope in the same direction. Is it a risk? Yes. Is it hard to build a team that lasts? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes.

Who you put around you matters.

Links of the Week

  1. Perry Noble on How to get buy in from your staff part 1 and part 2.
  2. Why Tim Tebow’s super bowl ad is a good thing. (From the perspective of a pro-choice journalist). This is a great article.
  3. Meet Acts 29 church planter Jared Ayers. I went to college with Jared and his dad did our wedding. Awesome to hear how things are going and how God is using them in Philadelphia.
  4. C.J. Mahaney on How Dad’s can proactively watch the super bowl. Great insights into how to protect your family, enjoy the game and how to use the game as a launching point with your kids.

What You Can Control

I was reading Exodus 18 – 20 this morning. It is the classic passage on delegation. Whenever you go to a pastor’s conference, someone is bound to use this passage to show how to delegate. The example of Moses doing everything for the Israelites and not handing things off, for a number of reasons, is something every pastor and leader can relate to.

Jethro (Moses’ Father in law) watches as all the people line up to let Moses answer their questions and make decisions for them. Jethro asks him, “Why are you doing this? All by yourself?”

Moses answers, “Because the people come to me with questions about God. When something comes up, they come to me.”

Now, it is easy to look at this and think, but Moses is wise. Maybe Moses was the best person to do this, the best person to answer all their questions. But Moses also kept other people from being involved. By doing this, he was really being selfish by not allowing others to help and he was setting up a system that made it that only he could answer people’s questions.

One of the things that many pastors struggle with is letting go of things. Letting go of control and letting other leaders step up. Not being in every meeting, every conversation, every decision. This makes the pastor the bottleneck of the church. It keeps the church from being healthy and effective, and it keeps highly talented leaders from doing what God created them to do.

Once in my coaching network, Nelson made the comment that there are two reasons churches do not break through the 65 and 125 barrier (these are considered the two hardest growth barriers for a church to breakthrough). They are connected:  either the pastor will not give up control and delegate to other leaders, or the church won’t let him.

At Revolution, we are entering this stage. We prepared for it by raising up leaders and passing things off to them before we needed to. We have always tried to be ahead of growth and staff and prepare for it instead of reacting to it. I shared on Saturday night that right now, you don’t have to talk to me to get involved and connected at Revolution. That is awesome.

We are trying to remove the barriers to breaking through 125 before we have them. This is exciting and scary for me as the lead pastor. Giving anything away as a person is difficult, but when you start a church or business, it is hard to let others care as much as you do. Even though they do, it is still hard.

I was reminded Saturday night how many people in our church care about Revolution and how much effort everyone puts in to make it happen. As a leader, I am humbled by this.

In a growing church, the lead pastor must let go of control to high capacity leaders. They must let leaders do what God created them to do. It is a win-win situation.

A leader must learn to control what they can control. A leader can control what they give away and how they do when they give it away.

Why Highly Talented, Busy People Volunteer

This past Saturday, I talked about how we build the city (Revolution) within the city of Tucson. How it takes everyone to do what God has called us to. To amplify the point, we did what we called “No Show Saturday.”

I came across this list on Mark Beeson’s blog about why highly talented, busy people volunteer at a church:

  1. They want to see done the thing you’re trying to get done.  What you’re doing is clear to them, and clearly important to them.  Because they value what you value, what you’re doing is clearly worth their sacrificial effort.
  2. They see the need and want to help meet the need.  Whether they jump in to help for a moment (helping with one step of the process), or stay with you for the entire mission (laying down their life for ultimate mission success), they see how they can assist you and they do.
  3. They want to be involved. After considering their other options (how they could otherwise be using their time, energy, knowledge and skills), they prioritize your mission above other competing values. The success of your work – for one reason, or another – is important to them.  They believe the work is worthy.
  4. They’re invited. They feel welcomed and valued. They recognize you’ve made it possible for them to join the effort. There is a place for them on the team. Affirmation and appreciation are hand-in-glove with a mission strategy that organizes all available human resources.
  5. They understand how their personal involvement improves the work. Once they understand your mission, most people know themselves well enough to realize whether their skills, training, education, strength, possessions and experiences can be leveraged against your need. They see how they can add value and advance the mission.
  6. They want you to succeed. Your ultimate success in life matters and they believe your mission success in the particulars of the moment will serve as a step toward the ultimate fulfillment of your life. For reasons you may not even understand, they want you to succeed. Since they care about you, and want you to fulfill your destiny, they volunteer to help you all along the way.
  7. They love working with you. You are inspiring, encouraging, positive, expectant, trustworthy, successful and fun.
  8. They love working with the other volunteers. They want to be with the other volunteers on your team. They love the way they’re treated and valued. It’s fun, fulfilling and rewarding to do what you’re doing with you and your team.

Conversely, good people will quit, and leave your team, if they no longer feel welcomed, don’t feel valued, lose their vision for mission success, can’t make a contribution worthy of their effort, don’t like you or find the rest of the volunteers unkind, unreasonable and impossible.

See original post here.

No Show Saturday

This past Saturday was unlike any other night at Revolution. It was unlike any other night at any church I have ever been to.

As we were planning the big creative elements for this series, we came to the idea of teamwork and volunteerism that it takes to make Revolution happen week in and week out. We tossed around how to really bring this idea home without having the normal, “It would be really great if you served and here is why…”

During this planning time (in the fall) I came across the idea of a no show service from Steven Furtick at Elevation Church and loved it.

So, on Saturday, we had no greeters, no signs around the church telling you where to take your child (we had a full staff in Planet Rev because we wanted to make a point not be a distraction), no food or coffee, no one handing out programs, no Bibles on the seats (you picked up the programs, pens and Bibles from boxes), no moving backgrounds on the screen, no videos, no band, no candles.

Only paid staff did something at Revolution on Saturday.

As a portable church, most people have no idea what goes into making a church happen. It is easy to walk in every week and think everything it just happens.

Paul walked out on stage with an amp, his guitar and a mic and that was our sound system. We had no intro video for me, I carried my table out. It was weird, but it was a beautiful night. God moved in the worship time in a special way.

The point was to say, this is how many people it takes to pull Revolution off week in and week out and that number is growing as God continues to entrust us with more and more people. We also wanted to give all our volunteers a night off (although many of them confided in me that it was tough not doing anything and they wanted to fix problems they saw). In fact, when we brought the screens down at the beginning of the service, one of them did not come down. Not planned, but it went perfectly with the night.

Every week, it takes almost 40 people every week to make Revolution happen. From office help, printing, folding, setting up chairs, bibles, candles, sound equipment, running the lights, sound and video, greeting, setting up food, signs, curtains, teaching classes, holding babies, leading small groups. And then we take it all down. That doesn’t even include small group leaders and hosts.

No Show Saturday was a huge success. It was a risk we were willing to take to say thank you to all of our volunteers and to challenge the rest of our church to jump and help build the city (Revolution)!

Saturday Night Mind Dump…

  • Great night tonight
  • Really different, but a great night
  • To emphasize how many people it takes to make Revolution happen, we had “no show Saturday
  • It was the best way we could think of to emphasize how much our volunteers do to make Revolution happen
  • Without them, our church would not be able to last
  • Instead of telling our church that, we showed them
  • It was pretty eye opening and incredibly awkward
  • I don’t know if people felt it, but tonight was one of the most personal messages I have ever preached at Revolution
  • I am humbled by the leaders I work with and that so many people have bought into the vision of Revolution
  • If you missed tonight, you can listen to it here
  • Tonight was really a culmination of spiritual readiness, something we as a church and leaders have been trying to get better at and make more of a priority
  • Been reading The Contemplative Pastor this week and have been really challenged by the ideas of what it means to spiritually direct a church
  • Lots of good thoughts
  • Went out to dinner with some new Revolutionaries
  • They were 3 Ph.D. students in Reformation History
  • Fascinating discussions
  • Love hearing how people find Revolution and how excited they are about Revolution
  • Right now, God is moving in so many powerful ways at Revolution
  • Have my coaching network call this week
  • This month has really stretched my thinking as it is all about preaching and calling people to a decision or some kind of action
  • Hoping to get better at this in my preaching
  • If you have not picked up Carlos Whittaker’s new EP, you need to
  • Got to hang out with some church planters this past week and have some more on the schedule this week
  • Love hearing about how God is working in Tucson and what is working at other churches
  • We have our second small group tomorrow
  • What I love about this small group is how diverse the group is and how many people in the group are in a group for the first time
  • We announced tonight about Rev Up starting in the next month
  • If you are a parent of a student, mark February 13th on your calendar
  • Cody and Hannah will be having an informational meeting that night after the service
  • Came across this this week on Clayton King’s blog:  How to pray for your pastor
  • Had three second time guests tell me tonight, “Your follow up is awesome”
  • Excited for next week
  • Not only to have all of our volutneers back and the band is going to rock out
  • But my mom will be there
  • Always love being able to speak when my family is there
  • Going to sit back and watch some Saturday Night Live with Katie