Top Posts of February

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February was the biggest month ever on my blog. Thanks to all the new subscribers and readers and thank you for all the shares of content on Facebook, Twitter and other places. Please keep it up.

If you missed anything, not to worry, here are the top 10 posts for the month:

  1. The One Thing Destroying Your Marriage That You Don’t Realize
  2. Women, It Matters Who You Marry
  3. Loving Does Not Equal Participating
  4. 11 Ways to Know You’ve Settled for a Mediocre Marriage
  5. 7 Ways to Fight Well in Your Marriage
  6. 7 Reasons You Aren’t Communicating with your Spouse
  7. Men, Your Son-in-Law Determines Your Legacy
  8. Before You Criticize Your Pastor
  9. How I Structure my Week
  10. When a Staff Member or Volunteer says, “I’m Done”
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Links for your Weekend Reading

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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Chuck Lawless on 10 questions every leader should ask every week.

Most leaders, though, would benefit from more regular evaluations – particularly self-evaluations. Even daily and weekly self-evaluations merit our consideration if we want to lead well, regardless of our position.

12 things TEDx speakers do that pastors do not.

“An idea isn’t just a story or a list of facts. A good idea takes evidence or observations and draws a larger conclusion.” Of course TEDx talkers often have multiple points, but they always have direction: they’re always moving forward to a set conclusion (and that’s all big idea preaching is, for all the flack it gets). They also suggest to the speaker: “Get your idea out as quickly as possible.”

Joe Stengele on 4 time management tips for leaders and pastors.

I get to meet lots of leaders. Some are young, some are old, but without a doubt the ones who get the most done always manage their time well. Most young leaders I meet have no idea how to manage their time. I’m one decade into what I pray will be a lifetime of ministry, and I have made plenty of mistakes, but there are four time management tips I have learned. I pray these will help you as you grow in leadership, by God’s grace.

Brian Dodd on 5 lies men believe. This is so good.

J.D. Greear on Why plant campuses when you could plant churches.

One of the most frequent objections I get to our multi-site approach is this: “Why do you plant more campuses when you can plant churches instead?” Since our church is committed to church planting, I take this objection very seriously. And at first glance, the objection seems rather intuitive—people and money you could be investing in a church plant are instead being re-directed into a campus. This objection, however, is built upon two assumptions: first, that church planting solves the problem of overcrowding; second, that the multi-site approach competes with—or even precludes—church planting. But neither assumption is true.

Dave Page on Why people leave a church plant early.

Those who start the journey with you seldom finish with you. In the church planting world I call this principle THE LAW OF SCAFFOLDING. The people you start the church with are not the people you grow the church with. This is one of the hardest lessons I had to learn as a church planter.

Ruth Graham on The heresy of Jesus Calling

I’m tempted to call this blasphemy. Thomas Nelson specifically requested I not use the word “channeling” to describe Young’s first-person writing in the voice of Jesus—the word has New Age connotations—but it’s hard to avoid it in describing the book’s rhetorical approach.

Todd Rhoades on Are you more like Jay Leno or Jimmy Fallon as a leader?

Leno was, by most accounts, forced out early by NBC.  A new article/commentary at Mashable tells why:  Jay Leno, while he was doing great in the traditional measures (nationwide TV audience in a given demographic) could not make the switch to the future (which included youtube, vine, twitter, facebook, and all the viral directions that TV and late night was going).

Bryan Rose on How to ask the right questions when hiring a church staff member.

Mistakes are most often made when hiring is based on surface characteristics like stage ability, resume experience or fashion sense, rather than on the foundation of church culture. Your values define your church’s culture. Therefore, values should form the basis of your staffing logic, whether the prospective leader is paid or unpaid. Well thought-through interview questions, based on values, could be the difference between a perfect match and the perfect storm.

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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

book

  1. Feeling shame is not repentance.
  2. Thom Rainer on The stages of a pastor’s ministry. This is true in church planting as well. Makes me excited that I’m moving into Year 6 at Revolution.
  3. How to fire someone in ministry.
  4. Matt Walsh on You’re a stay at home mom? What do you do all day? Katie and I hear this a lot and it always blows my mind. Great way of putting it in this blog.
  5. What Sam Storms wished he had known when he started ministry 40 years ago. Tons of wisdom here for pastors.
  6. Tim Challies on The porn free family.
  7. Fat men can’t lead men.

The New Hobbit Trailer

Saturday Afternoon Book Review: Effective Staffing for Vital Churches

On most Saturday afternoons, I share a review of the most recent book I’ve read.To see previous books I’ve reviewed, go here. This week’s book is Effective Staffing for Vital Churches (kindle version) by Bill Easum and Bill Tenny-Brittian. In it, the authors seek to make the point that separates churches in terms of health and effectiveness can be found in their staffing cultures. Who they hire, how they hire staff, how that staff spends their time, how that staff does in terms of developing other leaders vs. doing all the ministry.

According to the authors, here’s what a staff does:

So what’s the purpose of staff? Simply put, the role of staff is to “equip the saints for the work of ministry” (Eph. 4:12 ESV). Staff creates an environment in which leaders at every level are equipped and encouraged to replicate the DNA of the church by living out their spiritual gifts. God built the church on the premise that every Christian has a gift and a calling to share with the world. It’s called the “priesthood of believers.” The role of staff is to ensure this happens.

Even before reading this book, I’ve made specific changes to how and who I spend my time with. The authors of this book largely backed this up with their research. A lead pastor should spend the majority of their time with:

  1. Younger, emerging leaders.
  2. No more then 4 staff members that report to them.
  3. Guests to the church.
  4. Those who don’t know Jesus.

Here’s why:

Effective coaches invest heavily in those who not only show promise, but who are committed to the leadership journey. That doesn’t mean the coach neglects those with less promise or commitment, but with limited time and resources wise leaders invest most heavily where the greatest return can be expected.

I realize how this sounds like it is uncaring or unloving in some way. At the end of the day, this mindset is what is best for the church and fulfills what God has called pastors to.

In a church under 500, the authors say a lead pastor should spend 70-80% of their people time in these areas to see the most effectiveness. Notice, this isn’t all their time, just the majority of their time. Many pastors fight against this and the authors point out, this is one of the reasons church aren’t as effective: leaders don’t hand ministry off to other leaders.

What I appreciated most about the book were the sections where the authors laid out the transitions a leader and a church must make as the church grows. This has been something I’ve been trying to learn more and more about as Revolution grows. What I did when we were a church of 50 people, then 150, now 250 and then what it looks like at 500 and beyond. One of the things the authors pointed out is many leaders and churches are not willing to change what they do or learn new things as the church grows and changes.

Overall, if you are looking for a resource on how a pastor should spend his time, hiring and firing staff, how to deploy staff in an effective way, this is a book worth picking up.

Links I Like

Links of the Week

  1. Chuck Swindoll on The most important thing.
  2. Charles Stone on 5 non-negotiable decisions every leader must make.
  3. 25 ways to be missional in your neighborhood.
  4. Mike Breen on How culture has corrupted the American church.
  5. Jonathan Dodson on Is Pluralism more tolerant than Christianity?
  6. Motherhood is application.
  7. Steve Jobs resigns as Apple CEO.
  8. Jared Wilson & Tony Merida on Preaching Today.
  9. One of the main reasons students leave church after high school is their faith reflects the faith they’ve seen growing up.
  10. Bill Hybels on Preparation matters.
  11. 6 trends in church staffing.
  12. Carl Trueman on Teaching your kids the trinity.
  13. Scott Williams on Most leadership stress is self induced.

Hiring, Firing, & Board Meltdowns – Panel Discussion

Here are my notes from session 2A of the Leadership Summit. Bill Hybels, Patrick Lencioni, Henry Cloud, David Ireland and Carly Fiorina were on a panel to discuss the issues surrounding hiring, firing and board meltdowns.

  • There needs to be a connection from the person being hired to the culture of the church
  • A cultural fit is a must when it comes to a church
  • Whenever you make a decision about a person in a great state of need, you will idealize the person
  • What are the 2 or 3 behaviorial things, that if a person doesn’t have, they don’t get hired?
  • A healthy hiring sequence
  • An interview is an easily managed situation
  • Spend time with a person, drive in a car with them, take them to a store, play golf, ask them what other people would say about them
  • Ask the same question 3 times
  • Ask questions that are not yes/no answers:  what are 2 weaknesses/strengths, what are the challenges to managing you, how do those weaknesses affect our organization
  • Talk less
  • Ask questions about their answers
  • Ask open ended questions:  tell me about yourself
  • A can’t miss when it comes to hiring:  organizations with a strong culture that the people who fit their are drawn to them and the people who aren’t are repulsed by them, list in advance what are the needs of the organization, the job description is not just about skills but personalities and strengths, take the time to talk about why you are hiring and what you are expecting, find out a lot about the person, the process will do its work if you have a correct process
  • Board meltdowns
  • The reason meltdowns happen is because you didn’t do something before the meltdown, they don’t just happen
  • You must decide your tone, how will you operate
  • Will you have non-board members at a board meeting
  • You can’t build trust on a team if you aren’t vulnerable
  • Take 10 minutes at the end of a meeting and ask, “How did we do?”
  • Board members serve 3 purposes:  influence, affluence, a unique skill set that helps to lead the organization
  • Can a person help move the ship forward and if they can’t, why is that person on the board?
  • Firing
  • People consider it compassionate to not be honest with people, that is not compassionate
  • A firing should never be a surprise
  • If you hold someone accountable, they are either going to improve or decide this isn’t right
  • 3 steps to firing someone:  re-train them, could they serve the organization in a different position, if those don’t work, retire them
  • “The kindest form of management is the truth.” – Jack Welch
  • Are you prepared to demotivate your best people if you don’t have the hard conversations
  • Clarity and care have to be best friends in the situation of letting someone go
  • Be upfront about the process, especially if the firing is a financial decision, not a personnel decision

Links of the Week

  1. Ed Stetzer on What a pastor does. There is a lot of confusion on what a pastor should do, because many of the opinions have little to do with what the Bible calls a pastor to do.
  2. Craig Groeschel on The benefits of hiring from within, the downside of hiring from within, how to hire from the outside and the disadvantages of hiring from the outside. I would prefer to hire from within, takes a lot of surprises out of the equation, but sometimes hiring from the outide is the right move. Great thoughts to keep in mind.
  3. Bert Decker on the Power of story.
  4. Sam Rainer on College majors and church attendance. This is a fascinating study that shows depending on your major in college will dramatically affect whether or not you attend church while in college.
  5. Winfield Bevins on Missional Christianity.
  6. Bert Decker on Obama, the Teleprompter and Authenticity. A must read for any communicator, great reminder about authenticity.

Links of the Week

  1. Ed Stetzer on Americans doing it their way. Recently, George Barna came out with some new research on how Americans are connecting to God and there is a surge of creating your own way. This is Ed’s thoughts and how the church should respond.
  2. Perry Noble on Two facts about spiritual warfare part 1, part 2. These are so true and a great look at what a pastor and their family go through.
  3. Church Marketing Sucks on Pick One. Your church can’t be all things, it can be one thing. You have to pick. Even though you think you shouldn’t, your church has already chosen, now, you need to find out what you’ve chosen and become better at that.
  4. Scot McKnight interviews Ruth Haley Barton on The Pastor & Spirituality. Barton’s book Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership is a must read for any leader. Too often pastors forget the spiritual side of what they do, this is a great reminder of why your soul is so important.
  5. Dan Reiland on Top 10 hiring lessons. It is easy to forget these when you are excited about filling a spot, but so important to hire the right person.
  6. Sam Rainer on 10 bad church work habits.
  7. Scot McKnight on Christianity vs. Following Jesus. Is there a difference? Did Christianity get off track at some point? 

Staffing (In Response to Growth or For Growth)

When it comes to staffing, every church has a specific way they think about it, whether or not they actually say it out loud. It affects more than staffing, it is something that is in the DNA or the culture of the church. It affects everything.

You have two choices essentially when it comes to staffing in a church: you can staff FOR growth, or you can staff in RESPONSE to growth.

At Revolution, we staff for growth.

I was talking with a mentor once and told him some things we would do if we had more resources available. He looked at me and said, “Faith and risk will not just show up in your church because you have more people and more money. It is either in the DNA of your church or it isn’t.”

Now, staffing for growth means that you staff in expectation of what God is going to do. You staff before you need it. This can be dangerous. It can be stupid, you can get ahead of God. This takes a lot of prayer, counsel and trust that you are on track with God.

It also says, “God, we trust that you care about this church more than I do and we believe you want to do great things.” Then knowing what God is doing, how He is moving and calling you to move and then doing it. Essentially, faith.

Staffing in response to growth is waiting for things to happen and then jumping on board. It becomes more passive, while staffing for growth is active.

We are there right now. Not only did we hire Paul before we needed him, but now we need him. So he was here before we needed him and it has made a huge difference. We hired Jennifer recently to oversee Planet Rev. and I know that it is the right decision and will pay huge dividends in the lives of our kids and families.

The key is to not go overboard, that is easy to do and say, “We’re being idiots and spending more than we have and trusting God to move.” That isn’t prudent and is not being a good steward of resources. Sometimes though, you need to take the leap and say, “We believe God is calling us to this and we’re going to follow.”

Being a leader is about knowing what you’re called to and doing it regardless of who comes along.

I don’t want to get into the discussion about finances and whether or not a staff member pays for themselves (they do), but that isn’t part of this discussion (it is and it isn’t). This is essentially a discussion on faith and risk. Too many churches and pastors do not have faith in what God has called them to and the courage to risk it all to follow after Him.

Perry Noble always asks this question to leaders: “If you could do anything for God and it would succeed, what would you do?” Then he asks, “Why aren’t you doing that?”