An Organizational Growth Cap Theory

When I consider companies like Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon, the one constant I think of is change. Interestingly, after I typed that first sentence, I Googled “Most Innovative Companies” and found Fast’s list for 2012. How close do you think I got to their list? See for yourself HERE. But, don’t be impressed with my guesswork. You could have done the same thing, because it’s obvious to us that these companies are all about change.

Then I think of churches I know…some of the most growing, Kingdom-impacting churches I know are also the most innovative…the most open to continual change. I think of LifeChurch.tv, for example. Not only have they impacted many with their vision for multi-site/video venues, but they’ve also helped us discover or been a part of YouVersion and Open, a resource website for churches and ministries. I also think of Andy Stanley’s North Point and how their version of doing church and Andy’s preaching style has impacted so many others. Both LifeChurch and North Point appear to be a culture of change. From what I read about their culture, change is continually being introduced.

Let me be clear. I’m not advocating that either of the church models is the right one for every church. Neither are they the exact right model for the church I pastor. I am interested in church growth. I do like to see progress. I do want to avoid capping Kingdom growth.

I am suggesting that there may be something about growth we can learn from the two examples…business and church. My personal experience, and watching other organizations succeed, has led me to believe that there is something about continual change that produces continual growth.

In fact, I wonder if:

The level of growth an organization can experience may be determined by its level of tolerance or resistance to change.

I’m still processing that thought.

What do you think?

Some of my best work…

Is done when I can’t understand all that I’m doing…

  • When things are messy…
  • When my head is cloudy…
  • When I have more questions than answers…
  • When my faith is being stretched…
  • When I am unsure of my position…

If you wait until you have all the answers…where doubt is removed completely…

You’ll often find yourself stagnant on making decisions…

You’ll seldom achieve “the best you can do”…

And the rewards you receive will be less than monumental…

Part of living the Christian faith is actually using it!

How are you currently having to walk by faith?

One who watches the wind will not sow, and the one who looks at the clouds will not reap. (Ecclesiastes 11:4)

Attempting to Eliminate Risk in Leadership

If you want to eliminate risk from leadership…

Here’s what you have to accept:

It will be expensive – You’ll have to eliminate every thing which could go wrong. That will not be cheap to accomplish.

It will be time consuming – You will have to research all scenarios and answer all questions. That will take considerable time.

It may seem impractical – Getting to zero risk may never actually happen regardless of how hard you try. Risk seems to find its way back into the equation, in my experience.

It may be unrealistic– Life is a risk. Risk is all around us. If it involves people, time or circumstances, risk seems more realistic than no risk…to me. I’m not saying it won’t, I’m just questioning how practical that really is and really whether or not that’s even leadership. Leadership by application involves risk.

I’m not trying to stop you from trying to eliminate risk in leadership. Study. Evaluate. Question. Critique. Make practical plans as much as possible. That certainly sounds like good stewardship. I try to do each of those. You can certainly keep doing so until you are comfortable the risk is eliminated. Go for it!

My personal thought, however, is that when eliminating risk is a primary motivation you may lose opportunity. Try to eliminate risk and the world and the best ideas may pass you by.

Eliminating risk certainly doesn’t mesh with my understand of faith, nor does it mesh with the passion or adventure God seems to have given to the people He created. We seem to be by nature seekers of adventure, discovery…risk.

But, if that’s your goal…to eliminate risk…don’t let me stand in your way. Zero risk on the way…right?

Bonus question: What is the biggest risk you are currently attempting?

The Value of a Long-Term Plan

I read a blog post recently that indicated the death of long-term planning was imminent. Their point was that we need to be so flexible in a fast changing world that we should no longer make 5, 10, or 20 year plans. Even a one year plan was diminished in importance for this writer.

I understand. I agree with the writer in principle.

In the age of short-term, instant everything, long-range planning gets a bad rap.I have a concern though.

My fear is if you don’t look further down the road, you’ll wake up surprised someday.

You’ll drift off course…

You’ll lose your way…

You’ll get distracted…

You don’t have to be rigid with your plan. I don’t even like the sound of that. You don’t have to legislate the methods of reaching the plan. That could keep you from embracing current trends. You don’t have to resist change because you have a plan. That seems counter-productive to me.

I just think you may still need a long-term plan.

Knowing where you want to end up is one key to long-term success. To me, that requires a longer term plan.

I know this:

You seldom hit a target you haven’t positioned in front of you.

How do you feel about long-term planning?

Promoting Your Church on Facebook

This is a guest post from Michael Cornett, the founder of Church Website Design .Co, a Christian web design company that helps churches share the Gospel through websites and free social media training. Michael can be reached at support@churchwebsitedesign.co or on Twitter @Website4Church.

I believe in using social media for Kingdom purposes, having done online ministry for over 15 years. I’m thankful for the intentionality of ministries and Christian-based businesses helping us to do that well.

Here is how to Promote Your Church on Facebook:

Your church is having a great new band visit in a few weeks and you want to let everyone in your community on Facebook know about it. The problem: your Facebook Page only has 200 “likes.” The solution: create a Facebook page post ad—yes it’s a mouthful to say, but not too difficult to do.

Why should your church create a Facebook page post ad?

1) Share your post with thousands users
2) Target specific demographics with your ad
3) Gain new “likes”
4) Increase awareness of events, mission trips, etc.
5) Inexpensive way to advertise your church’s events

How can my church setup a Facebook page post ad?

First, sign into the Facebook account that is the administrator of your church’s Facebook page.

Once you have logged in, post a short, eye-catching post about the event your church would like to promote. This first step is very important because this post is what everyone will see, so spend some time creating a post that will entice users to click it.
Once you have made a post that you would like to promote, you can begin creating your ad. To get started, go to your home page and click Ads (left hand column).

 

Next Click Create an Ad (top right).

 

Under “Destination” choose the appropriate Page. Type->Facebook Ads, Story Type->Page Post Ad, Page Post Selection-> “the post you just created.” Under preview it will show your logo, church name, post, and allow users to like, comment, and share your post.

 

Know Your Church’s Target Audience

Facebook allows you to control exactly who sees your ads, which is an essential part of targeting the right users and controlling your church’s ad spend. For example: If your church is hosting a new Christian rock band, targeting church members and others within the community 60+ probably isn’t the best use of your money. Choose appropriate ages, gender, location, or even select to only show the ad to fans or friends of current fans.

Summary

Creating a Facebook Page Post Ad can be a great way to share your church’s message with a larger audience and if setup properly, will help gain new “likes” for your church Facebook Page. Setting up an ad is a fairly painless process, and if your ads are targeted to the correct demographic, can be very cost efficient. I would encourage all churches to try out a new Facebook Page Post Ad for your next event, mission trip, or even to promote your pastor’s latest sermon on podcast.

“Transformational Discipleship: How People Really Grow”

Recently I received my copy of “Transformational Discipleship: How People Really Grow” written by my friends Eric Geiger, Philip Nation and Michael Kelley. I was curious about their work, because I believe discipleship is a current weakness overall in the church. How can we do it better? I decided to interview the three Kingdom builders.

Here is my interview on Transformational Discipleship:


Why do you feel strongly about this particular discipleship message?

(Eric) First and foremost, because “making disciples” is the calling laid on the life of the Christian. It’s what we are all supposed to be about, both as a disciple and as one participating in the process of discipling others. Of all the things Jesus might have said when He ascended into heaven, His marching orders to the church involved making disciples. But many of us choose to settle for behavioral modification or the transfer of intellectual knowledge rather than seeking and trusting the Holy Spirit to change people at their core.

(Philip) The charge of making disciples isn’t a passive one. God has called us in the church to take an active role in both our own discipleship and in the discipleship of those around us. It’s a process that we’re all on – as Billie Hanks has said, “I’ve never met a mature Christian, only maturing Christians.” We want to help people move into that journey for their own sake and for the sake of those around them.

(Michael) This particular message about discipleship is helpful, I think, because we are attempting to articulate the balance between doing and believing. We want to embrace that ultimately only the Holy Spirit can transform an individual. It’s His work, and yet we are to play an active role in that work. While we don’t transform ourselves or anyone else, we can try and create an environment, in our lives and our churches, that is ready to embrace the work of the Spirit.

Let’s address the title of the book. Why is the book called Transformational Discipleship?

(Eric) Each of the words in the title is significant. Every person in the world is a disciple because everyone follows someone or something. That’s what a disciple is – a follower. But while every person is a disciple, not every person is transformed.

What we are really after as followers of Christ is transformation. That’s the process in which something actually becomes something else. So growing in Christ isn’t just putting on a new set of habits or behaving differently; it’s deeper than that.

Being a disciple is simply following Jesus to a greater and greater degree. And if we are following Him, then we are through our lives becoming something different. The Holy Spirit and He alone does this transforming work in the hearts of people. What our job is, as church leaders, isn’t to transform; it’s to set the conditions that are most conducive for real transformation to occur.

(Michael) In the book, we liken this kind of partnership to water skiing. The person behind the boat isn’t the one who lifts himself of the water or pulls him across the lake. The boat has all of the power. But the one with the skies on does play a part. He or she must place themselves in the right posture behind the boat, giving the one driving the boat a “thumbs up” sign, and prepare for the ride.

Spiritual transformation is the same. God is the one enabling His people to mature and grow while His people are invited to place themselves in the right posture.

The subtitle is How People Really Grow. So in a nutshell, how does that growth happen?

(Eric) We frame the process of spiritual growth in the book through three circles: Truth, Posture and Leaders. The place where those three circles converge is what we call the transformational sweet spot.

The sweet spot on a bat or a tennis racket is the place that has the most potential impact when you hit the ball. In the same way, when these three factors come together a church is set up to experience transformational discipleship.

Here’s how we articulate those three factors coming together: The transformational sweet spot is the intersection of truth given by healthy leaders when someone is in a vulnerable posture.

Unpack that definition a bit. Each of those words (truth, leaders, posture) are big terms. What specifically do you mean by them?

(Philip) In each of the three areas, we highlight specific ideas that aid transformation to occur. We call them lenses. So for truth, there are three specific lenses that contribute to transformation: the gospel, identity, and the spiritual disciplines.

It’s especially important for leaders to understand these lenses because they influence the way they present God’s truth to the people that have been entrusted to their care. For a leader, then, to present the truth, they focus on the gospel, understand that in the gospel a person’s identity is made new and different in Christ, and equip their people to participate in the spiritual disciplines.

You say that truth should be applied by healthy leaders to people in a vulnerable posture. What makes a person have a vulnerable posture?

(Michael) All kinds of things. It could be a significant life change or a period of loss. It could be a conscious choice on someone’s part to orient life around learning and obedience. In the book, we describe three characteristics of someone in this kind of vulnerable, or teachable, posture: Such a person is aware of their weakness, interdependent on others, and has an outward focus.

This section was really personal for each of us because we all looked back and knew that there were certain parts of our lives when we were most receptive to the truth of God. Most of those times coincided with some tough life event that pushed us into that posture. That’s one of the reasons why healthy leaders are so important; they are able to be a stabilizing influence in the lives of their people, helping them see how God’s truth meets them in their time of need.

Tell us a bit about the research that’s outlined in the book.

(Philip) In 2010, LifeWay Research embarked on an ambitious research project. We surveyed believers about their spiritual lives and level of maturity. We wanted to look into the major arenas of life where spiritual maturity takes place.

The research was done in three phases. First, we did a qualitative survey of experts in the field of discipleship. Members of our research team did interviews with recognized experts from multiple countries including pastors, professors, and church leaders from a variety of backgrounds.

From these experts in the field of discipleship, our research team gained a better understanding of what is taking place in the church both domestically and in other countries (specifically in the Hispanic context).

After the expert interview phase, the research team also conducted survey of 1,000 Protestant pastors in North America. The survey delved into the type of discipleship ministries being used in churches and the satisfaction level that they have with them. The survey revealed a great deal of paradoxes occurring between pastors’ hope that people are maturing and the level of satisfaction they have that believers truly are maturing.

Finally, the team at LifeWay Research did a survey of 4,000 Protestant Christians in North America. Of that number, approximately 1,100 were in Canada and the survey was done in three languages: English, Spanish, and French.

It was a really extensive project, and we’re excited to frame the results in this book.

Is this a research driven project?

(Eric) Yes and no. It’s certainly a project that’s supported by research, but we didn’t want it to read like a pure research book. We wanted it to be accessible for pastors and church leaders of all kinds. So while you’ll clearly see the research in the book, it’s driven more by biblical truth.

What role does the church play in transformational discipleship?

(Michael) If you look at the transformational sweet spot, you’ll see there are three major components: truth, posture, and leaders. Truth comes from God and is brought out in His word. The posture piece relates to the individual disciple. But the leader is the one who brings those two things together. Take out any of those three pieces and you get a deficiency in discipleship.

Transformational discipleship most effectively happens in the context of the local church. The church shouldn’t be an “add on” to someone growing in Christ, but instead the relationships between members of the church are the context in which this transformation happens.

(Philip) While it’s certainly not happening everywhere, the research that led to Transformational Discipleship gave us a lot of hope. Leaders in the church understand that their chief role is to involve themselves deeply in this process. The church can’t be a place where intellectual knowledge is transferred; neither can it be a place where behaviors are merely modified. Neither of those things is transformation. Real transformation is not just doing or knowing something different; it’s being something different. It’s an incredible privilege to be a church leader and be deeply involved in this work of the Holy Spirit.

You emphasize early on in the book that this statement of the transformational sweet spot isn’t a formula or a model but a framework. Why is that?

(Eric) When I co-authored Simple Church, it was meant to challenge leaders to have a process for discipleship, but it was never intended to be a model (the first paragraph of the book read, “this is not a model”). But for the last five years many church leaders treated the book as a “new model” for church ministry.

We love prescription. But you can’t “prescribe” the work of the Holy Spirit. You can describe His work, based on the biblical evidence and the stories we’ve heard, but you can’t simply put in a model and expect the Holy Spirit to just fall in line.

(Michael) We don’t want anyone to treat the transformational framework in the book as a new mission statement; we want it to help people understand to a greater degree how people mature in the church. When we start to see how leaders, truth, and posture intersect, it changes the way we teach, program, develop leaders, and even do pastoral care. But it doesn’t eliminate the need to listen to the voice of the Spirit to see how those things will change in one particular local church.

Again, that’s the divine/human partnership at work.

What are you hoping is accomplished through Transformational Discipleship?

(Philip) I’m praying that Transformational Discipleship will fill the church with hope. The good news is that the Holy Spirit is most definitely at work transforming the hearts of Christians. What we want to do in the book is reaffirm His work and try to give leaders some very helpful footholds – some ways of thinking that can inform and shape their ministries for the years to come.

(Michael) Discipleship is a big word to a lot of people. It’s intimidating, and while there is something mysterious about the way the Spirit works in the hearts of God’s people, discipleship isn’t reserved for some special class of Christians. So my hope is that through the book, the way people really grow in Christ might be de-mystified a bit. Not in the sense that we lessen the emphasis on the work of the Spirit, but in the sense that the way this happens becomes simplified in our minds.

(Eric) I want the church to enter into a day of playing offense rather than defense. The human heart isn’t something pure that needs to be protected; it’s something wicked that needs to be transformed. Jesus wants us to be on the move – to play offense. To take ground for the kingdom in confidence because of who He is. So my prayer is that the book helps us to see how we can be active partners with God to see people truly grow deep in Jesus.

What are your thoughts on discipleship in the church today? How are we doing?

4 Reasons They Don’t Want to Learn… and 5 Suggestions

I’ve learned in leadership:

You can’t teach someone who doesn’t want to learn.

It is true. Perhaps you’ve tried. I’ve been worn out trying to teach principles I know someone needs to learn…everyone can see they need them…but they seem to ignore them. They keep making the same mistakes. They never seem to catch on. They never seem to learn. It doesn’t even seem they want to. Many times it’s because they don’t.

It can be frustrating, but sometimes the person who doesn’t want to learn is me. Sometimes it’s you.

It’s not only in leadership. It’s true with all of life. Some people simply don’t want to learn. They aren’t teachable at the moment.

I’ve discovered that the reasons someone isn’t willing to learn may not always be the same. The reason may not always be what we think it is. In fact, there may be several reasons.

Here are 4 reasons people may not want to learn:

They don’t think they need to learn anything – This is the one that frustrates us the most, and it’s the one we accuse people of the most. It’s true, arrogance is common in leadership, but also among those who need to be led. Many leaders feel they are in a position because they are the only ones who could do the job. Everyone around them may know that’s not true, but they can’t see it. They don’t care to learn from others, because they aren’t willing to admit or see they have anything to learn. Sometimes those who still have much to learn are too proud to admit it.

They don’t know they need to learn anything – It may sound similar, but this is a different reason. It isn’t arrogance than causes this one, but rather ignorance. We’ve all been there at times. Many times I’ve assumed I had the answers already. It wasn’t that I wasn’t interested in learning more…I just didn’t know there was more to learn. I’ve said before, the older I get the more I realize I don’t know yet. Some of that comes with maturity and age. Some of it comes with experience. But, many times we don’t think we need to know anything new, because we don’t see enough problem with what we already know.

They don’t want to learn from you – This is a hard one for leaders to accept, but it’s actually quite common. It could be a relational issue or a positional issue…it might simply be a personality clash, but for whatever reason, it keeps them from desiring to learn from you. As a parent, there were seasons when my boys learned more from others than they did from me. I welcomed that and was appreciative of those who spoke into their life. This has been true also when someone was supposed to be leading me, but I knew more about a subject. It takes a very humble person to learn from those you’re supposed to be leading. I’ve had times when someone on my team hears the same thing at a conference I’d been saying for months. It sticks coming from someone new. Don’t be offended if they aren’t always listening to you, but make sure they are listening to someone.

They want to learn on their own – There’s nothing wrong with this, as long as they remain teachable. In fact, it should be encouraged at times. Some of the best lessons in life come from trying something and succeeding or failing. If they aren’t being arrogant, give them the freedom to explore independent of you. It will help you, them and the organization.

But, regardless of the reason….

You can’t teach someone who doesn’t want to learn.

That’s why the best leaders I know…the best teachers…the best parents…

Spend as much time motivating the learner as they do teaching them.

In the book “Switch”, authors Dan and Chip Heath call it “motivating the elephant”. Your job as a leader, if you desire people to want to learn from you, or even from others, is to motivate them to want to learn.

How do you do that?

If you want people to listen to you:

Here are 5 suggestions:

Value the person – No one follows someone willingly who they don’t believe cares for them. Zig Ziglar’s famous line “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” is true. Don’t expect people to want to learn from you until they know you have their best interest at stake and that you care for them personally; not simply what they can do for you or the organization.

Paint a great vision – You have to give people something worth following. It needs to stretch them, while still being attainable by risk, faith and hard work. When they know there’s a glimmer of hope to the finish line, they’ll be more willing to learn what it takes to attain it.

Communicate it frequently – Even the best vision fades over time. People get bored. Andy Stanley uses the phrase “vision leaks”. If you want to maintain your audience of followers, you have to keep reminding them why you are doing what you are doing.

Tell compelling stories – People are motivated by example. They want to know that what they are doing makes a difference. People will be more likely to seek your input if they know you are leading them to something of value and importance.

Share in the reward – People only feel valued when they get to celebrate the victory. If all the recognition goes to the leader, the follower feels taken advantage of to some degree. If you want people to keep listening…listen to them…share the credit…celebrate often.

What other ways have you found to get people to want to learn from you?

Building a Platform: Introducing Michael Hyatt’s New Book

The tension between self promotion and effectiveness in ministry is huge.

As a pastor, I am conscious of appearing to build a platform for my own self interests. Being online as much as I am is a struggle for those who don’t understand my Kingdom purpose. Of course, some are looking to criticize any pastor who uses non-traditional methods. My online presence makes me even more prone to attract critics. I have to not only be careful what I say, but the way I say it. For example, if I use the term “my church” I get criticized by some who gently (sometimes not so gently) remind me that it’s not my church, but Jesus’ church.

Okay, okay, I hear you, but regardless of the methods we use, God has given us responsibility in Kingdom-building; in disciple-making. I personally recognize the opportunities we now have to use our influence in social media to advance the cause of Christ online. I’ve been doing online ministry for over 15 years, and as with anything I do, I want to do it to the best of my ability. Scripture is clear that whatever we do, we should do it to the glory of God. Being effective online means I need to build a platform from which to leverage that online influence to the highest potential. Therein also lies the tension.

That’s why I find Michael Hyatt‘s new book Platform to be especially helpfulto pastors and anyone else wanting to use their influence for good. Whether as a pastor, a non-profit leader, or an individual who wants to advance a worthy cause, the insight Michael offers in Platform will help you build a better and bigger audience and allow you to make the most of your God-given talents. Michael not only knows how to build a strong platform, but, having sat with him and heard his heart, he lives his life with Kingdom purpose. I can learn from a guy with that underlying motivation.

Honestly, I’ve said consistently, if I could leave my name off my blog I would, but people today need to know who is behind a message. For that, one needs a platform. Michael helps you do that.

Michael is the master of platform building, having built his personal brand to an exceptional level over the last few years. Michael has positioned himself as an expert in social media and leadership. Much of that has come through his willingness to invest in others, which is how I became familiar with Michael. I’ve been blessed by our time together and his investment in me.

It should come as no surprise that with the launch of Platform, Michael would want to give his readers more. For those who purchase the book between May 21 and midnight on May 25, Mike is giving away $375.98 in bonus resources for Platform. Wow! How do you beat that deal?

Build your platform now. Buy Michael’s book HERE.

Do you ever balance building a platform to leverage influence versus simply promoting yourself?

Taking Initiative

This is a guest post by Joey Berrios. Joey is an educator, writer, and designer. You can read his blog at joeyberrios.com. He is the author of Addicted To Love.

Taking Initiative

We all have the fear of rejection. We all have the fear of putting ourselves out there. We all have the fear of taking a risk. We all have the fear of failing. We all have a part of ourselves that wants to play it safe and hold back when it comes to our personal creativity and innovation.

Seth Godin says the following about our fear of taking initiative in his book Poke The Box: “The simple thing that separates successful individuals from those who languish is the very thing that separates exciting and growing organizations from those that stagnate and die. The winners have turned initiative into a passion and a practice. The challenge, it turns out, isn’t in perfecting your ability to know when to start and when to stand by. The challenge is getting into the habit of starting.”

Fear holds us back from personal breakthroughs and innovation. Fear keeps us from speaking up when we have a great idea. Fear keeps us from creating something beautiful that can enhance the lives of others. Fear causes us to be mediocre. If we are not careful, fear can rob us of our creativity and passion. By playing it safe, we rob ourselves of the difference we can truly make as leaders in the lives of others.

One of the greatest qualities of a leader is the ability to take initiative. A great leader does not wait to be told what to do: he finds what needs to be done and does it. A great leader understands that he must fight to keep himself from being controlled by fear and doubt.

Examine the following quotes from a few of our world’s great leaders:

“Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.” -Conrad Hilton (Hilton Hotels)

The right man is the one who seizes the moment.” -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“I would rather regret the things I have done than the things I have not.” -Lucille Ball

“An idea is worthless unless you use it.” -John Maxwell

Is there a project you have been dragging your feet on? Is there an idea that you are passionate about? Is there a goal that you want to accomplish? Don’t let fear keep you from taking the necessary steps to reach your desired future. Yes, you will have haters. Yes, your ideas might not always workout the way that you planned. But what option do you really have? You cannot afford to do nothing. You must step out and take a risk. You must take initiative and bring your dream to life.

Success comes to those who are extraordinary. There are far too many people who are playing it safe in our world today. Our world needs leaders who are willing to take the risks necessary to bring their ideas to life. Playing it safe and refusing to take risks will only chain us to mediocrity. By taking initiative, we can begin to see our creativity and innovation make an impact on our world.

Where in your life do you most need to take initiative?

10 Questions to Evaluate Your Personal Progress

This week every year, I review my personal progress for the year. Would you like to play along?

Here are some examples of questions I ask myself:

  • What did I do that worked well?
  • What did I attempt that didn’t work?
  • Did I meet my goals?
  • What could I do better with a little tweaking?
  • What should I stop doing so I can do other things?
  • Where is my time most being wasted?
  • What discipline do I most need to implement into my day?
  • What was my most memorable moment?
  • What drains my energy just to think about doing again?
  • What changes do I need to make?

Are you playing?

Here’s to a great 2012!