Book Notes | Mission Drift: The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities, and Churches

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Wess Stafford, President and CEO of Compassion International said,

I can think of many Christian organizations that have lost their spiritual commitment. I can’t think of one secular organization that found its way to a Christian commitment. Any leader who inherits a strong Christian commitment must shepherd the culture and steward that commitment.

In a nutshell, that’s why this new book by Peter Greer and Chris Horst Mission Drift: The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities, and Churches is so important. Having just preached a vision series at Revolution and going through a process of re-clarifying the win or why of Revolution Church, this book was incredibly refreshing to read, as well as incredibly challenging as I think through the task of keeping the mission clear, putting things into place to protect this clarity and keeping everyone on the same page.

The stories they tell of organizations who less than 50-100 years ago who were Mission True and had a clear Christian identity, to now simply collecting money is scary.

Here are a few things that stood out to me:

  • Without careful attention, faith-based organizations will inevitably drift from their founding mission.
  • According to studies, 95% of Christian organizations said mission drift was a challenging issue for them.
  • Mission True organizations know why they exist and protect their core at all costs. They remain faithful to what they believe God has entrusted them to do. They define what is immutable: their values and purposes, their DNA, their heart and soul.
  • Mission True organizations decide that their identity matters and then become fanatically focused on remaining faithful to this core.
  • If we aren’t entirely convinced that our Christian faith is essential to our work, then we won’t be willing to make the tough decisions to fight for it.
  • It’s often Christians who seem most likely to be the biggest critics of bold Christian distinctiveness in our organizations.
  • Mission drift is a daily battle.
  • Mission True organizations know who they are and actively safeguard, reinforce, and celebrate their DNA. Leaders constantly push toward higher levels of clarity about their mission and even more intentionality about protecting it.
  • The single greatest reason for mission drift is the lack of a clear mission and vision.
  • If leaders aren’t bleeding the mission, drift will always trickle down.
  • When we begin to see our priority as a growing ministry, instead of a faithful one, we sow the seeds of drift.
  • Leaders always act in accordance with their beliefs.
  • Mission True organizations find a way of stating and measuring what they believe matters most.
  • What’s not measured slowly becomes irrelevant.

Highly, highly recommend this book to any pastor or leader who works with a non-profit.

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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.

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Mark Driscoll on The 6 kinds of church services and how they impact preaching and worship planning.

Too often a church service is themed theologically, without consideration for the mood emotionally. But getting the mood right is very important. If you don’t, the sermon and the rest of the service won’t align for a journey, but collide like a car wreck.

Rosaria Butterfield on You are what you read.

Michael Hyatt on How millionaires manage their time.

I’ve been lucky enough to interview over 130 millionaires. They know the value of their time, and use it to the best of their ability. I’ve curated the top tips on their time management to help you have more time to work, and more time to play and be with your family. So how do you stay productive when faced with a seemingly endless to-do list? Here are four awesome tips for greater productivity, straight from the millionaires themselves.

The 5 most important questions a church needs to answer.

  • Question 1:  What is Our Mission?
  • Question 2:  Who is Our Customer?
  • Question 3:  What Does the Customer Value?
  • Question 4:  What are Our Results?
  • Question 5:  What is Our Plan?

4 Tips for Starting a Children’s Ministry in a Church Plant.

Church plants are becoming increasingly popular and in the midst of all there is to do, getting your children’s ministry off the ground can tend to slip under the radar. Here are a few practical tips for starting a children’s ministry in your church plant.

People Pleasing Pastors

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How to be Capable to Accomplish Your Dreams

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I interact with a lot of younger or newer leaders. Still being in my 30’s, I still feel like there is more for me to do or accomplish. Yet, that thing always seems to be out of reach for many leaders.

In his book The Catalyst LeaderBrad Lomenick lists how to be a leader who is capable of accomplishing things:

  1. Capable leaders constantly push forward. Surround yourself with people who spend more time dreaming about tomorrow’s possibilities than dwelling on yesterday’s failures. It’s easy to lament bad decisions, but a leader who can push ahead of them is invaluable.
  2. Capable leaders are team players. At Catalyst, we argue on principles, but we always have each other’s backs. In order to succeed, you need confidence. And you can’t have confidence without trust.
  3. Capable leaders own their mistakes. A leader who blames others for his mistakes cannot grow in his role. Look for team members who can admit missteps without growing discouraged.
  4. Capable leaders are willing to take risks. If an organization is going to thrive, the leaders must be willing to pioneer new territory. Surrounding yourself with people who will boldly step out even when it doesn’t make sense is important.
  5. Capable leaders are constant learners. Capable leaders never stop growing and getting better. Learners are committed and coachable, always students and desperate to learn. They nurture a professional curiosity. What kinds of books are they reading, if any? Do they subscribe to any podcasts? How are they attempting to become better at what they do? Do they listen more or talk more? As your organization grows, you need team members who are constantly learning.
  6. Capable leaders aren’t entitled. I believe that experience creates expertise. So the best leaders develop in the midst of action—doing, not just thinking or dreaming or talking. I need to know that my team is willing to break a sweat alongside me.
  7. Capable leaders are anticipators. You must stay a step ahead of the people you serve. Otherwise, you’ll end up spending all your time reacting to problems and concerns and mishaps. It’s imperative for leaders to figure out what the organization needs before anyone else ever realizes it.
  8. Capable leaders are persistent. They see things through and don’t give up. They don’t ask just once and read Facebook until they get a response. They follow up again and again until they get the answer or solution they need.
  9. Capable leaders are trustworthy. Because they can be trusted, capable team members are among the most valuable employees in any organization. When they make a promise, you don’t have to worry about follow-up.
  10. Capable leaders deliver. Capable leaders get things done. I look for people who do what they say they will do. This allows me to delegate more and manage less. Team members need to make it happen no matter how insignificant the task or assignment.

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Leading Up

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Leadership is hard. That isn’t news.

It is hard to lead people. It is hard to lead followers. It is hard to lead those under you or those who work next to you on the organizational chart (you know, the ones you can’t make do something).

It is really hard to lead those over you, to lead up.

Yet, to get anywhere in leadership, you must learn to lead up.

Why?

The person above you probably controls your budget, your salary, your benefits and if what you want to do gets done.

The person above you potentially controls a lot.

So, to accomplish what you want to accomplish at work and in your life, you need to lead them well.

This is especially true for guys who want to plant churches.

If this is you, you will at some point, find yourself working under someone. Someone that you are smarter than, someone that you are more relevant than, someone that you are more biblical than, someone that has sold out to risks and is now just collecting a paycheck.

Now, you won’t say these things to them.

But deep down, you know they “lost it.”

They now look and sound like the guy from Up. 

So how do you lead up? Here are 5 ways to lead up and accomplish what God has called you to without losing your leadership. Because don’t mistake this: if you don’t lead up well, you will have a hard time leaving your current spot to get the role you want. 

  1. Affirm and back their vision. Right now, if you aren’t the leader at the top of the organizational chart, you are a follower. If you can’t follow well, you can’t lead well. What if you don’t support their vision? Unless it isn’t biblical, you chose to be there. You need to be submissive to that. As long as it isn’t heretical, just different from what you would do, follow well. But you know better. You are an entrepreneur who God has called to something else. I know. But wait. Affirm them as the leader. Believe it or not (see #5), you will need them in the future.
  2. Be patientYour timing is not God’s timing. I knew when I was 21 that I would one day plant a church. I didn’t know where or when, but I knew. It was when I was 29 in a state I had never set foot in before. Those 8 years were hard, sometimes painful, but they were formative. Be in the moment. Seek to learn what you can. If you aren’t in charge, relish that. Prepare for when you will be. Watch. Listen. Ask questions. Seek out mentors. Read books. Be ready for when God says “Go.”
  3. Risk when the time is right. This is a timing and heart issue. I’ve watched countless guys say “Go” and it was terrible timing for them, their families and the church they left. Can God overcome anything and call anyone at anytime? Yes. God is also wise and doesn’t always call us to the stupidest thing we could do. If you think, “Is this stupid? That must be God’s will for my life.” That is a terrible way to discern that. But lots of people equate crazy risk with stupid. Don’t put your family in a bind. Don’t put the church you are leaving in a bind. Remember, the way you leave a church is how they will remember you. They will forget everything else you did.
  4. Be open and honest. Talk to those above you about what God has placed on your heart. What if they fire you? You don’t want to be there then. This also shows if you feel called or if you think planting or being the lead guy just sounds fun.
  5. Don’t leave unless they back you. The first question I ask a church planter who wants money, people, support or resources from Revolution Church is, “Does the church you just left support you? Are they giving you anything?” I’m very cautious of the guy who says “No” and then has a story or reasons why not. Is it always their fault? No. But to me that is a sign, a red flag that often reveals a character issue.

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Balance is a Pipedream

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As the holidays get closer, schedules get busier. There are parties to attend, pageants to go to, rehearsals for Christmas shows, tree lightings, decorations to buy and hang, presents to buy and wrap, food to prepare and all the while, still keeping up with everything else you do.

December 26th will roll around and most people will want to fall over in a heap of exhaustion, but there’s no time. We have to return clothes that don’t fit, clothes that are ugly, buy things that are on sale and get Christmas cards and decorations for next year because they are on sale for 80% off.

Over the next several weeks, people will quietly vent about all that they are doing and will do to friends and family, they will make resolutions in January about slowing down, eating better, working less, checking Facebook and email less, and signing their kids up for less activities. Only to find in February that they can’t wait for summer to hit so they can take a week off and sit around.

But we all know how summer goes.

In these conversations about pace, tiredness, doing too much, working too much, sleeping too little, an interesting work and concept comes up.

Balance.

Whenever someone says they are tired or doing too much, a friend with good intentions will respond, “You need to get balance in your life.” We talk about work life balance. Balancing schedules, checkbooks, planners, and activities.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, balance is a pipedream.

The next time someone tells you that you need to have more balance in your life, ask him or her what that means or looks like. You’ll get blank stares.

No one seems to know.

Yet, everyone is going for it.

Here’s a better way to think about life, work, kids, money, sleep, food and anything else you try to get balance in.

Every time you say yes to something you say no to something else.

Think about it like this. Whenever you say yes to staying up too late watching TV and eating ice cream you say no to a good night sleep, more sleep and a trimmer waist line.

Whenever you say yes to sign your child up for everyone team and activity you can throw at them, you say no to a sustainable pace, family dinners and overall health.

Whenever you say yes to work late you may say yes to a promotion and more money, but you also say no to family time, relaxing, time with friends and unwinding with a good book.

When you say yes to going into debt, you say no to peace in your life and bank account.

When you say yes to that extra piece of pie over the holidays, you say no to health.

Remember, balance is a pipe dream.

Are all these examples wrong? Not at all. You should eat some good dessert over the holidays. You should sign your kids up for fun things. You should buy nice things you can afford and bless others with nice presents. All of those are great things.

Take a minute though and remember last December, last January and February. What did you feel? Exhaustion, a longing for a break and rest that never came.

Now, the question isn’t should I do these things, it is more about, and what do you want to say yes to and say no to. Because, every time you say yes to something, you say no to something else. Every time.

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15 Quotes from Innovation’s Dirty Little Secret

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Every Saturday morning, I review a book that I read recently. If you missed any, you can read past reviews here. This week’s book is Innovation’s Dirty Little Secret: Why Serial Innovators Succeed Where Others Fail (kindle version) by Larry Osborne.

This book was fantastic. Instead of a full blown review, here are 15 quotes that jumped out to me:

  1. What is the dirty little secret of innovation? It’s simply this: most innovations fail.
  2. The success of people is not found in their ability to avoid failure. It’s found in their ability to minimize the impact of failure.
  3. Innovation is birthed out of answering these two questions: What frustrates me most? What’s broken most?
  4. Organizational innovation is often ignited by our deepest personal frustrations.
  5. The kind of mission statement that keeps an organization focused and accelerates innovation doesn’t just happen.
  6. A mission statement needs to be ruthlessly honest. It should reflect your organization’s passionate pursuit, not merely your wishful thinking, your marketing slogans, or a spirit of political correctness.
  7. Many leaders confuse mission with marketing.
  8. A mission statement should be aimed at insiders. Its purpose is to tell those on the inside of the organization where the bull’s-eye lies.
  9. The purpose of a mission statement is to tell everyone on the inside what we’re aiming at. It’s supposed to let them know what’s most important.
  10. To impact the daily decisions of an organization, a mission statement must be easily remembered and repeated ad nauseam – and then repeated again.
  11. When your mission statement is an honest reflection of your passion, is widely known, and is broadly accepted, it will not only help you get where you want to go; it will accelerate innovation.
  12. God’s will has three components: a what, a when, and a how. Each is equally important. Two out of three won’t cut it. Miss out on any of the three and you’ll end up in the weeds.
  13. It’s not always the best idea that succeeds. It’s the combination of a great idea, proper timing, and excellent execution that brings success.
  14. You can’t lead if you can’t live with low-level frustration.
  15. The important question is not, “Does this fail to help us fulfill our mission?” The important question is, “Does this keep us from fulfilling our mission?”

The Importance of Organizational Culture

organizational culture, analysis and development concept

What an organizational culture does to a church:

  1. Culture shapes our lives and all our beliefs.
  2. Culture is vital to effective ministry.
  3. Our culture affects the way we conduct our ministries in the church.
  4. Culture helps us understand better the different people we seek to reach for Christ.
  5. Cultural understanding is essential to leaders if they are to lead their established churches well.
  6. Cultural understanding is essential to leaders if they are to lead their planted churches well.
  7. Culture may cannibalize strategic planning.
  8. Understanding culture helps the church cope with changes in its external environment.

From Look Before You Lead: How to Discern & Shape Your Church Culture by Aubrey Malphurs.

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Cheap Kindle Books 8.27.13

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Here are some cheap kindle books. Not sure how long they’ll stay that way:

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.