3 Questions to Discern What I Personally Announce on Sunday Morning

Vintage microphone on the table

If you’re a pastor then you know the tension I am about to describe in a made-up scenario.

Pastor, can you announce the next meeting of the “Faithful Followers” meeting? It’s Tuesday night at 7 at Sister Rita’s house. Everyone needs to bring their favorite dessert.”

Do you announce it or not?

It may depend on several things. The size of your church. The expected size of the event. Frankly, how much pressure you will face if you don’t.

But, it’s often not an easy answer.

While I hope you never cave into pressure to do what you know you shouldn’t — I do realize the pressure. (And, even this post will upset some who won’t or didn’t get their agenda promoted.)

When we were a church plant running over 2,000 people a week I still had people who wanted me to wish someone “Happy Birthday” from stage. And, sometimes the pressure came from one of our most faithful volunteers. I get it.

But, if you want to be effective you can’t promote everything from stage.

If I promote everything I wouldn’t have time to preach, nothing would really be “special”, and pretty soon people wouldn’t listen to much of what I had to say. Plus, if I promote one thing there is automatic precedent and pressure to promote another thing. Over time you’re announcing “Faithful Followers”, “Joyful Journey” and Wednesday’s afternoon coffee club.

Where’s the line?

I think saying the pastor will never promote anything is the wrong answer. I realize the value in a pastor’s “endorsement”.

So, how do you decide what to personally promote?

I am assuming announcements are made by someone else or some other means on Sunday mornings. These are things I’m expected to say.

Here are 3 questions I ask when I discern making announcements I make personally:

What needs my personal promotion most?

This seems like a reasonable question, right? What I’m asking myself is really what is valuable to the largest amount of people and has a chance to be more successful if I say something about it? Just asking this question may or may not eliminate the “Faithful Followers” meeting. It depends on the number of people the meeting impacts within the context of the entire church. If it’s a few, I’m less likely to mention it. If it’s a significant percent — perhaps 25% or more of the church would be interested — I’m more likely to address it personally. (And, the percent is just a number. I use my best judgment here for what seems like a significant impact on the congregation as a whole.) When I talk about a men’s ministry event, for example, I know nearly half of the congregation has the opportunity to attend.

Where do I need to add credibility to a ministry?

When I arrived at the church I’m at now we had a vision to grow our college ministry. It makes sense. We are less than a mile to the center of a university and a junior college. When they had an activity, although it might impact only a small portion of the congregation, when I promoted it I raised the value of college ministry in our church. It reminded people of the importance and showed my “support”. I’ve done the same for our parking ministry which was launched shortly after I arrived. Again, I realize the weight the position brings to something and if it’s something the church needs to value more I’m likely to talk about it.

What impacts a large portion of the church and needs more attention to be successful?

We are in a growth mode. Much of this growth is from young adults and young families. Our preschool ministry is being stretched. What a great “problem” to have! I love it. But, we do need more willing servants to fill the growing needs in this area. I am frequently bringing this growth and need to the attention of our congregation. Our preschool director is thankful and apparently the personal word of encouragement makes a difference in recruiting efforts — or so I’m told. If the need can only be met fully with my mention then I know I need to bring it before the church.

Those are some of the ways I discern what to announce. Again, I can’t talk about everything our church does.

To be candid, this doesn’t eliminate the pressure from those who want something announced. It does give me some comfort I’ve at least thought through my answer. 

This also doesn’t, however, negate the importance of anything we do. Every ministry is hopefully important to achieving our mission. We have a website, social media, bulletins, a mobile app, slides in the service, and announcements someone else does on Sunday to cover other things. When there is only so much time on a Sunday I have to carefully discern what I personally mention.

In closing, these are considerations for what I personally announce. Because there is only so much information people can retain I think they may be good questions to filter all the Sunday morning announcements allowed in a church service. 

5 Reasons Your Pastor may not be Leading Well

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I was talking with a concerned man recently about his church. He’s concerned the church is wasting a lot of resources and accomplishing little towards its vision to make disciples. They have a large building, a large staff, and a rich history of Kingdom-building, but the building sits empty most days of the week and there is a steady decline in baptisms and Sunday attendance. There is no momentum in the church and he’s concerned in 20 years the church will be gone. He blames it all on the leadership of the pastor.

I can confirm his concern. Statistics tell us almost 90% of churches are in decline or plateaued. I’m told it takes 30 years for a declining church to die.

I don’t know, however, if it’s completely fair to always blame the pastor. Keep in mind it could be you have a difference of opinion in regards to how the church should be led and how the pastor should be leading. Many times this is philosophical as much as anything.

Certainly, however, leadership is a critical part in the success of any organization — including the church. Let me be clear here — I believe Jesus is the head (and the leader) of the church, but God uses men and women to lead people within the church. It’s the subject of another post, but regardless of what you term it, leadership, as a concept among God’s people and the church, is exemplified throughout Scriptures.

About half of my readers are pastors. (I’ll apologize to you in advance for this post. My goal is to help pastors, not injure them more. I’m a firm believer, however, until you identify the problem you have a hard time finding a solution.) I frequently hear from staff ministers and church members concerned about the direction of their church. The number one issue churches appear to face is of leadership — specifically pastoral leadership.

In fact, many would say if the pastor isn’t leading well, the church will likely suffer at some level.

When a pastor isn’t leading the church well, there’s usually an answer as to why. I’ve listed some of them I’ve observed here.

5 reasons the pastor may not be leading well:

Ignorance

I don’t mean this one to be cruel, but you only know what you know. Most pastors don’t learn everything we need to lead a church in seminary or any other school, for that matter. Many pastors never developed leadership skills prior to being assigned a position of leadership within the church, so much of pastoring becomes on-the-job training. Because much of a pastor’s job involves people, the realm of possibilities a pastor might encounter are as wide as the differences are in people.

The solution for this reason is training, mentoring, and growing by experience. The church should be understanding and supportive of opportunities for the pastor to learn from others and the pastor needs to be humble enough to admit the need for further training. This requires great humility on the part of the pastor to allow input into their leadership.

Innocence

Many times the pastor simply doesn’t see what you see — or for that matter, value you what you value. I’ve learned I’m often the last to know of a problem within my church. If there’s an issue in preschool ministry, for example, if someone doesn’t tell me about it, I won’t know about it. I don’t have preschoolers anymore, and most of the time, while I’m preaching preschool ministry is in full function. Now I value preschoolers, so I would want to know if there is a problem in that area. There may be other areas of ministry that the pastor doesn’t spend time thinking about, because it isn’t an area he’s passionate about. This doesn’t make the ministry wrong, or unimportant, but it simply may not have the pastor’s first attention. Many times the thing you think the pastor should be addressing is on the list of the things of which the pastor isn’t aware there is a problem or simply hasn’t been considering that area as an issue of importance.

The pastor needs to learn the art — and again humility — of asking questions to see what areas are struggling and what’s important to people in the church. The church needs to find ways to share information more readily with the pastor, without arguing and complaining — because that’s not the Biblical way.

Burnout

In a survey of pastors who read my blog a few years ago, 77% said they were presently or had been in a burnout situation. Burnout is when you aren’t healthy enough to function at full capacity. When a pastor is facing burnout, leadership will suffer. The pastor needs to be diligent in remaining healthy physically, spiritually, mentally and relationally, and needs to seek help when any of those areas begin to slip beyond the normal stress of life.

Pastors need to learn how to recognize the signs of burnout and address them early, before they significantly impact their leadership. The church needs to be mindful of the amount of demands placed on the pastor, consider the needs of the pastor’s family, and build a structure that invests in and protects the pastor. One of the best things a church can do is give the pastor significant enough downtime to recover from the demands of ministry. That need will vary based on the level of demands placed on the church, pastor and pastor’s family at the time.

Structure

I hear from pastors weekly who feel they are handcuffed to tired, worn out, traditions that keep them from accomplishing their God-given vision for the church. Many times the restraints placed against a pastor prevent effective leadership. A pastor is restricted when there are too many unnecessary rules, the committee system is cumbersome and inefficient, or when the demands of the church on the pastor are unrealistic. Pastors and churches are often threatened by power hungry people and extreme resistance to any change.

If the pastor is expected to lead, then latitude and freedom to lead needs to be afforded without the constant fear of retribution. Church members should ask the question, if the church expects the pastor to lead, does the structure of the church allow the pastor to lead the church? If not, then the church will either need to adapt the structure or lower the expectations placed on the pastor’s leadership.

Arrogance

Let’s be honest. Some pastors confuse a call to a position for a mandate of dictatorship. Jesus is the head of the church. God allows men and women of God to lead in His church, but some pastors assume more control than has been afforded to them. If a pastor is not careful, pride will take over and humility will be absent. When this is the case, people naturally resist leadership, stir controversy, and resist change.

The pastor needs to build an accountability structure of people who have been given the authority to speak into their life. As for the church’s role, I believe this type issue is handled best with one or a few people approaching the pastor first, rather than making it a Sunday afternoon, “sit around the table and bash the pastor” event. If the pastor is struggling with arrogance, however, it needs to be addressed as it is not honoring to God and could be the “pride before the fall”.

I realize I’ve just scratched the surface on each of these — and possibly offended a few of my pastor friends, even with a sincere heart to help. I’m happy to dialogue about them more in the comments.

What are some other reasons pastors don’t lead well?

7 Ways to Maintain Respect as a Leader

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People follow people they trust. They trust people they respect.

As a leader, one of your most valuable and needed assets is the respect of the people you are trying to lead. If a leader is respected, people will follow him or her almost anywhere.   If a leader looses respect it becomes very difficult to regain respect.

Often a new leader is given respect because of his or her position as a leader, but respect can be quickly lost due to performance. Many times it’s the seemingly small things which cause the most damage to a leader’s reputation and damages respect.

I have found with a few simple (some not so simple) acts help protect the respect a leader enjoys.

Here are 7 ways to maintain respect as a leader:

Be responsive. Return phone calls and emails promptly. Be accessible to real people. You may not always be available, but you can create systems where people are genuinely valued and heard.

Be consistent. Do what you say you will do. Let your yes be yes and your no be no. Don’t tell people what they want to hear, but speak grace and truth in all circumstances. Let people learn to trust you are a person of your word and can be depended upon based on what you say.

Have high character. Act with integrity. Be honest. Protect your moral credibility. Be transparent and open to challenge. Allow a few people to know the real you and speak into the dark places of your life.

Be fair to everyone. Don’t be too harsh. Don’t be too soft. Treat everyone with respect. Genuinely love people. (People know when you do or don’t.)

Keep growing. Learn continually and encourage growth in yourself and others. Ask questions. Be teachable. Read. Observe. Glean from others and experience.

Have good work ethic. I personally think leaders should work as hard or harder than others on their team. But, having a good work ethic doesn’t mean over-working either. It’s working smart and setting a good example for others to follow.

Be courageous. Make hard decisions. Don’t shy away from conflict. Know who you are in Christ and live boldly the calling God places on your life. Live with the aim to finish well — in spite of the obstacles you encounter.

Maintaining respect is a matter of acting in a respectable way. How are you doing? You may want to ask the ones you are supposed to be leading.

What would you add to my list?

10 Characteristics of Good Leadership – an Expanded and Revised Version

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When I first wrote about the characteristics of good leadership almost 6 years ago. At the time I had been a leader for well over 20 years and had studied the field o leadership academically. My blog was fairly new but growing.

These were designed to be informative, but honestly, even more, they served as a checklist reminder of sorts for my own attempts at good leadership.

Since then my blog influence has grown, I’ve moved from a church planter to a church revitalizer, and I’ve learned so much more. Still, when I look over these characteristics, I stand behind then. I’ve tweaked them a bit for readability purposes. (Every time I read my writings again I see something which could be improved.)

Here are 10 characteristics of good leadership:

1. Recognizes the value in other people, so continually invests in others – Good leaders see a large part of their role as developing people and new leaders. Leadership development takes place in an organization as leaders begin to share their experiences, both positive and negative, with others.

2. Shares information – There is a tendency of some leaders to hold information, because information is power. A good leader uses this to the team’s advantage knowing the more information the team has collectively the stronger the team.

3. Has above average character – There are no perfect people, but for a leader to be considered good, in my opinion, they must have a character which is unquestioned within the organization. Their integrity and transparency is paramount. Leadership always draws criticism, so a leader may not be able to get everyone to believe in him or her, but the people who know the leader best should trust the leader’s character most.

4. Uses their influence for the good of others – Good leaders are as interested in making a positive difference in people’s lives as they are in creating a healthy profit margin or accomplishing a strategy. In fact, people-building is a large part of the strategy. This doesn’t mean that balance sheets and income statements aren’t important, in fact they are important for the success of an organization (even non-profits – even churches), but a good leader doesn’t separate a desire for helping others from the desire for financial health. And, good leaders find ways to leverage financial health to strengthen the well-being of others.

5. Skillful, competent and professional– Good leaders are talented or knowledgeable about their field and can be depended on for their follow through. You don’t question whether a good leader is going to be able to complete a task. They may not be the smartest in the room, but if they don’t know how to do something, they will find someone who does and they aren’t afraid to ask or empower others. They will ensure a job they have committed to do is done the best it can be done. This also means they don’t commit to more than they can reasonably accomplish. They know the power of “No!”

6. Not afraid for others to succeed (even greater than their own success) – Good leaders realize some followers will outgrow the leader’s ability to develop them any further. Good leaders, however, aren’t threatened by another’s success. They are willing to celebrate as those around them succeed — even help them get there.

7. Serve others expecting nothing in return – Good leaders have a heart of service. They truly love and value people and want to help others for the good of the one being helped, not necessarily for personal gain.

8. Continue to learn – Good leaders are always learning and implementing those learnings into the betterment of the organization. That could be through reading, conferences, web-based learnings, or through other leaders, but also through people who report to the leader.

9. Accessible, approachable, and accountable to others – Good leaders don’t isolate themselves from people regardless of the amount of responsibility or power he or she attains. Good leaders willingly seek the input of other people into their professional and personal lives. They desire to know people, not just be known by people.

10. Visionary – thinks beyond today – Good leaders are always thinking “What’s next?” It is a common question asked by good leaders, knowing someone must continually challenge the boundaries and encourage change. They spur growth and strategic thinking so the organization can remain healthy, vibrant and sustainable.

These are in no particular order. You may say some are more important than others but as soon as I prioritize them we can start to marginalized the higher numbers. They are all important in my opinion. 

What would you add to my list?

5 Tips for the Leader When Conflict Develops on a Team

team conflict

As a leader, one of your primary roles is developing and maintaining the health of the team. What do you do when team members aren’t getting along with each other?  How should you handle conflict on a team?

In my post 10 Tips for Handling Conflict, I primarily address team members individually working together to address conflict. The question I receive is: What happens when conflict escalates to the point where a leader’s input is needed?

First, I would say the leader being involved should be rare. Very rare. Most problems need to be handled individually. If it’s occurring frequently you may have the wrong people on the team or a bigger issue to address.

Here are 5 suggestions:

Don’t ignore

Conflict never goes away on it’s own. It usually only gets worse with time. In fact, conflict is a necessary aspect of a healthy team, so to avoid it keeps the team from discovering the best answers to issues and allows unhealthy tension to remain. I like to give conflict some time to work itself out among team members, but not long enough to disrupt the team’s progress or jeopardize the health of the team. When the team starts choosing team member’s sides of an issue and the conflict begins to be disruptive I know it’s time for me to address it as the leader.

Protect the vision

The vision of the organization or team should be the common ground for everyone on the team and it’s my role as leader to protect it. In times of conflict, I want to make sure everyone is still committed to that vision. I realize that some conflict develops naturally, just because of differing goals, objectives, and personalities. The leader must balance the bigger picture objectives. (Read THIS POST for more on that subject.) If the conflict involves a support of the vision or is disruptive to accomplishing the vision then addressing it becomes more serious. If the vision is fully supported, then conflict can be addressed among the individuals involved.

Talk it out

Once it is obvious issue is not resolving, as difficult as it may be, I like to bring the individuals in conflict together to discuss the matter of conflict. Make sure the conflict is clearly identified. Often there were simple misunderstandings that need clarity or viewpoints that a team member feels the need to express. At this point, don’t make the mistake of being too nice as a leader. (Read THIS POST about that subject.) Again, healthy teams and relationships involve healthy conflict and when it isn’t resolved or addressed it remains a stumbling block to the future health of the team. For this step, I like all parties to be in the same room when the conflict is discussed. Addressing an issue separately opens the door for misunderstandings and choosing sides and many times the discussion brings communication to the issue which helps solve the conflict.

Establish mutual respect

Sometimes team members have to agree to disagree if it’s not a disagreement at the vision level. The leader, at times, may have to serve as a third party mediator and should remain neutral in issues of conflict in order to maintain organizational health and keep the organization on track towards attaining it’s vision. The bottom line for me is that team members in conflict must be willing to respect each other and continue to work together, even if there isn’t complete agreement on an issue. Ask the question, “Can we move forward without this affecting the team?”

Move forward

After the issue has been addressed, the vision is secure, and mutual respect is established among team members, the leader needs to make sure the team moves forward from the conflict. There are times, especially in key leadership roles, where people can’t push past an issue and continue to work together, but most of the time conflict can make the team better, as team members learn to work together towards a common vision in spite of disagreements.

Leader, what would you add to my list?

How do you handle conflict on your team?

Have you seen times where conflict produced healthy results?

Have you seen conflict destroy a team?

5 “C” Suggestions for Developing Trust as a Leader

serious executive business woman team leader

Trust is like gold in leadership. Without it a leader will fail to build a healthy following. Change will be difficult to implement. Retention and recruitment of leaders becomes near impossible.

Developing trust takes time. It is seldom granted with position or title. Most people have been injured in relationships which keeps them from trusting blindly or quickly.

Three years into my current position, I recognize with many in the church I pastor I’m still developing levels of trust.

If any leader wants to be successful, much will be determined by the level of trust he or she can attain. One goal of every leader, therefore, should be trust development.

How do we do this?

Here are 5 suggestions for developing trust as a leader:

Compassion. Trusted leaders have shown people by experience they care for others — not just in lip service, but with genuine heartfelt compassion. Trusted leaders love people. Seeing others succeed around them is a high and celebrated value.

Competence. Trusted leaders have knowledge in a subject matter, and, when they don’t know something, a willingness to yield to those who know more. They aren’t always second guessing themselves or the team. They believe in themselves, in God’s ability to work through them, and in the people with whom they surround themselves.

Consistent. There is an expected approach or methodology upon which people can depend upon with a trusted leader. They have a consistency in character so, whether through good and bad times, the integrity of the leader is above reproach.

Communication. Trusted leaders have a process, which shares in transparency and full disclosure to the teams they lead. You don’t have to continually guess what they are thinking, what they are dreaming, or what’s next on their planning agenda. They include others in the decision-making process and keep them informed along the way.

Courage. Trusted leaders aren’t sitting still while the world passes them. They make decisions. Even hard decisions. They are willing to lead their team into the unknown while they hold their position boldly in front — even willing to take “arrows” for the team when needed.

Those are a few of my suggestions. Let’s be trusted leaders. Let’s get things done.

4 Ways for the Church to be Worldchangers

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This is a guest post by my friend Vance Pitman. Vance is Senior Pastor of Hope Church, Las Vegas and a National Mobilizer with the North America Mission Board. I heard Vance give this message at a church planting conference and asked him to share it as a post here. 

4 Ways for the Church to be Worldchangers

William James once said, “The great use of a life is to spend it for something that outlasts it.” Never has a group of people more embodied that statement than in the opening pages of the book of Acts. A small group of untalented, uneducated, unqualified people literally turned the world upside down and, now, 2000 years later, there are hundreds of millions of people following the movement which they were used by God to begin. It begs a very important question: what was it about them that enabled them to be so mightily used of God?

 As the story unfolds in Acts 1-2, we uncover some characteristics that I believe answer that question. And what’s most encouraging is that these characteristics all have the possibility of being assimilated into our lives today.

First, they had a faith that produced obedience. Let me say it another way—they simply trusted God and did what God said. Remember what Jesus told them to do in Acts 1:4, “He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem.”

If you’d taken an opinion poll among this group of people about where they wanted to be, Jerusalem would not have been on anyone’s list. I can hear the conversation now, “Jerusalem…are you kidding? They hate us there. They’ll kill us there.” As a matter of fact, if you’d asked them to list their top three cities to go begin the movement, some spiritual saint would have said, “Lord I don’t care where we go…I’ll go anywhere just as long as it’s NOT Jerusalem.” You see, Jerusalem was the scene of the crime. They had just witnessed Jesus being brutally beaten and crucified in Jerusalem. They wanted no part of Jerusalem. And yet Acts 1:12 says they went to…yep, you guessed it…Jerusalem.

Why in the world did they go to Jerusalem? Because it’s what Jesus said. If we are going to join in God’s world-changing mission, we must listen for His voice and simply do what He says. Unfortunately, today, we are too busy developing strategies and planning agendas to listen for the voice of God. Maybe that’s why we are not seeing God move like they did.

 Second, they had a passion that produced unity. Acts 1:14 tells us something extremely unique about this group of people. It says of them, “these all with one mind.” I must be honest, I don’t know that I’ve ever been in a church about which you could say that. “One mind” literally means that these people had all wrapped their hearts around the same thing. What was it? The key is in Acts 1:3…

To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.

For forty days, His last forty days on planet earth, Jesus only talked to His followers about one thing—the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is God’s sovereign activity in the world resulting in people being in right relationship with Himself. It’s the big picture of what God is doing in the world. It’s God’s global mission of redeeming a people unto Himself from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation. And these followers wrapped their hearts around it. Nothing else mattered but the mission.

Third, they had a desperation that produced prayer. Have you ever noticed the strange scene in Acts 1:8-11? In verse 8, Jesus, in essence, says, “Okay here’s the plan…you’re gonna start where they hate you, Jerusalem…then you’re gonna go where you hate them, Samaria…then you’re gonna go where you don’t know what exists and don’t know how to get there, the remotest parts of the earth.” And then if they weren’t blown away enough with the plan, Jesus begins to float! That’s right, float! And not just a little bit…He floats all the way up into the sky, through the clouds, and disappears. And the Bible tells us they just stood there “gazing into the sky.” And I believe they would have died right there, but then something even more amazing happens. God sends two angels to tell the disciples to get busy. Just in case you think I’m making this up, read what the angels said for yourself:

They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”—Acts 1:11

And everything changed with those words—“This Jesus…will come”! They ran back to Jerusalem, gathered in the upper room, fell on their faces and cried out to God in desperation. They knew they were hopeless unless God showed up in a big way. So they grabbed a hold of the altar of God and they did not let go until God did what He said He would do. There’s some insight into why we aren’t seeing God move today like He did in the book of Acts. We have time for everything but prayer!

Finally, they had the Spirit that produced power. There’s much debate about what took place in Acts 2. And to be totally honest, no one can explain it completely. All we know for sure is that the Spirit of God empowered His church like He had never done before. What we need today is a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit of God that can only be explained by the statement, “God showed up in a big way!”

So there you have it: ordinary people used by God in an extraordinary way. 

Hear me carefully. I’m not saying this is a formula by which we can manipulate a move of God. What I am saying is that, should the wind of the Spirit of God in His sovereignty choose to move, we must make sure that we have our sails raised to join in His activity. 

Lord, do it again!
 

 

10 Inexpensive Ways to Develop People on Your Team

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When budgets are stretched, development often is pushed to the back burner or cut altogether from the budget. This is dangerous for a team, which wishes to remain healthy and continue growing. If a team is not learning and improving, it will soon struggle to maintain any level of success.

It’s important, therefore, to find ways to develop even with stressed budgets.

Here are 10 inexpensive, or less expensive, ways to offer development to a team:

Bring in a leader – It may be cheaper to bring the expert to you than it is to attend a conference. Find someone from whom your team can learn and pay his or her expenses to visit the team.

Send a representative – You may have to draw names to decide who, but pay for one person to attend a conference with a catch — they have to bring information back to share with the team.

Read a book together – The number of leadership books easily outnumber the months a team will be together. Find some good ones, read and digest them as a team.

Use local resources – Most likely, there are businesses or universities in your community that have development offices or procedures to develop people, with people already skilled who can inexpensively invest in your team.

Online or teleconference – Technology allows for some great online conferences. Gather the team around a computer and learn without leaving the office. Additionally, if you have a telephone, you have the makings of a great way to connect with other leaders. Arrange for a joint call with one and let the team ask questions and then process the interview together.

Pool Resources – Join forces with another church to accomplish any of these ideas. Learn from each other. Swap responsibilities to lead a development activity. Share the costs of bringing in a speaker and do a combined mini-conference of your own.

Visit other churches – Allow the team to visit other churches in the area, either individually or as a group. Sometimes the quickest ways to promote change is to introduce leaders to other environments. It is a great way to develop new ideas and improve upon what you are doing as you see what others are doing firsthand. Be sure everyone goes expecting to bring something back to the team they have learned.

Learn from each other – Chances are good that everyone on your team has something to offer that can make the team better. Take turns sharing with each other something you already know or are learning.

Scavenger hunt – Assign each team member to find the best development idea and share it with the rest of the team. Whether online, in a book or through networking, seek out new ideas and improvements you can learn from one another and share it with the team. The process of sharing the idea discovered will prove to be development.

Trial and Error – The best development may be putting systems in place that allow the team to take risks, but then evaluate the success or failure in an effort to learn from them and grow. Teams should be doing this anyway, but teams often fail to intentionally learn from the process of doing normal work.

Development isn’t cheap, but it’s a necessary part of continuing to be a healthy and growing team.

Make this post better. Think development with me.

What low cost ideas do you have to offer development to a team?

One Suggestion to Take Stress from the Hiring Process

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There is so much stress involved in hiring the right person for the team. I am a very strategic person. This is especially true when hiring new people to our team. It’s one of the few areas I have such a strong voice in how it’s done and I am slow to add people.

Still, I’ve made plenty of mistakes.

If you get stressed about hiring the right person I have a suggestion which may help.

I have done this with great success in hiring several staff positions for our team.

Build the job description around the person.

It’s that simple.

Set an overall vision for what you’re trying to achieve — hire the best person you can find — then build the job description — with the person’s help — around the person you hire.

If they excel in administrative tasks then the job description may have more administrative tasks.

If they excel in creative tasks then the job description may have more inventive tasks.

Find people around whom you believe you can shape a team.

This is true whether they are paid or volunteer.

This approach allows you to hire for character, competence, experience and fit with the team. In fact, I think the culture fit may be most important. But, this approach doesn’t limit you to finding an exact replica of a clearly defined, narrowly focused job description.

Here’s the deal. I ultimately just want a strong team. I want people who share an overall vision with me. But, I don’t want to script how they accomplish their specific part of the vision.

This way of hiring allows me to be a leader instead of a manager. It frees people to be leaders instead of employees. It helps us achieve more than a rigid structured environment ever could.

And, I best of all — it makes for a much happier team.

Find the right people and you can build the right team.

10 Ways to Be a Good Follower

follow leader

I have a strong desire to help improve the quality of leadership in churches and ministries, especially among the next generation of Christian leaders. My youngest son, Nate, who has already proven to be a great leader in the environments where he’s served, consistently encourages me that I need to develop good followers, along with developing good leaders.

He’s right.

We aren’t all called to be leaders, although I have a contention that we are all leaders in some environment in our life, even if it’s self leadership. The point is clear though, not all of us will lead at the same level. Equally true is it is difficult to be a good leader without good followers — maybe impossible.

I’ve listed qualities of good leaders in several posts. I suppose there is room for a companion post. So, I set out to make a new list.

Granted, these are important to me as a leader. You may have your own list. In fact, I’ll welcome you to share your thoughts on characteristics of a good follower in the comments.

Here are 10 ways to be a good follower:

Help me lead better

You see things I don’t see. You hear things I don’t hear. You have experiences I don’t have. Help me be a better leader in the areas where I may not have the access to information you do. I love when the children’s ministry, for example, alerts me of people who are hitting home runs in their area so I can personally thank them. I’ve made some great connections this way. I should be recognizing individual contributions anyway and this helps me do that more often. Help your leader do his or her job better. Good followers find ways to make the leader better.

Do what you commit to do

One of the most frustrating things for a leader is to assign a task, practice good delegation, and then watch the ball drop because the person didn’t follow through on what they said they would. It could be an issue of not having the right support, resources or know how, or it could be the person doesn’t know how to say “No”, but good followers find a way to get the task completed, whether by personally doing it or through further delegation. If you aren’t going to complete it, or if you find out along the way you may not, let me know in plenty of time to offer help or find someone who can.

Don’t commit if you won’t put your heart into it

If the leader strives to be a good leader, then he or she wants the task completed well. That won’t happen with half-hearted devotion. Good followers give their best effort towards completing the work assigned to them, knowing it reflects not only their efforts, but the efforts of the leader and the entire team. We need passion from those who follow leadership.

Pray for me

I don’t have all the answers. In fact, some days I have none. I sometimes wonder why God called me to be the leader. I rely on the prayers of others, especially from those I am attempting to lead.

Complete my shortcomings

The reason we are a team is because you have skills I don’t have. To be a good follower means you willingly come along side me to make the team better, bringing insights, talents and resources I can’t produce without you. Don’t get frustrated at something I may not understand or be gifted at doing — or you have to show me how to do — but realize this is one way God is using you on the team.

Respect me

There will be days when I’m not respectable, but I do hold the responsibility to lead, so encourage me when you can. Chances are I’ll continue to improve if I am led to believe I am doing good work. In public settings, even when you don’t necessarily agree with my decisions, honor me until you have a chance to challenge me privately.

Love the vision

Genuinely love the vision of the team. You’ll work hardest in those areas for which you have passion. Ask God to give you a burning desire to see the vision succeed, then become a contagious advocate of that vision. 

Be prepared

When bringing an issue to me for a decision, do your homework and have as much information as possible. Know the positives and negatives, how much it will cost, and who the major players are in the decision. Be ready to open to having your idea challenged in order to make it better. I also believe in consensus building and a team spirit and don’t want to make all the decisions, so it’s probably wise to have a solution or two in mind to suggest should you be asked.

Stay healthy

I admit, sometimes I run at too fast a pace. I believe a healthy organization is a growing organization, which requires a lot of energy. I also think we are doing Kingdom work, which is of utmost and urgent importance. You can’t be as effective on the team if you are unhealthy physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually. You can’t always control these areas and life has a way of disrupting each of them, but as much as it depends on you, remain a healthy follower.

Leave when it’s time

I realize this is a hard word, but when you can no longer support the vision or my leadership, instead of causing disruption on the team, leave gracefully. If the problem is me, certainly work through the appropriate channels to address my leadership, but if the problem is simply differences of opinion, or something new God is doing in your heart, or you just don’t love it anymore and can’t get it back, don’t stay when you cease being helpful to the team. (Never simply stay for a paycheck.) God may even be using your frustration to stir something new in your heart.

What else would you add? What makes a good follower?