Dealing With The Average

average

Here are just a few things your average church goer DOES NOT DO:

-Serve every weekend

-Come to Sunday morning and Wednesday night services AND engage in a small group

-Discuss the weekend’s message around the dinner table

-Give 10%

-Spend daily time with God

-Understand what worship REALLY is

-Share their faith with those they can influence

So what do we do about it? Do we launch program after program trying to draw people in to the deeper part of the journey? Do we beg and plead from the stage about how badly God wants their all? Do we wrap everything in the slickest packaging we can muster and fire it off at the bullseye we’ve placed on peoples foreheads? Or…DO WE SET THE STANDARD?

Let’s be honest. Even though you may be in ministry full-time doesn’t mean you do all of the things listed above. How often does your quiet time get replaced by the busy work of ministry? How often do you check out during the message simply from brain fatigue? Do you REALLY talk about the message around the dinner table? Do you manage your finances well enough that 10% is even doable for you? I know I’ve struggled in a number of these areas and I suspect that the struggle will always be there.

Ministry is hard and often overwhelming, but if we can manage to prioritize what God is asking of us as Christ Followers over what our jobs requires of us we just might be able to be standard bearers to the people we have been called to serve…just a thought.

 

 

The Art of the Handoff

handoff

Handing off ministry duties and leadership is a tricky thing to navigate. Just like in football, everything needs to come together just right for the hand off to be successful. If you let go of the ball to soon, the “runner” will never secure the ball. If you let go too late, you’ll run into each other and the ball could be dropped. If you don’t call the play clearly, the “runner” may go one way, while you turn to the other, making the hand off impossible. There is always a risk anytime you place someone in authority. To minimize that risk and set your leaders up for success, you MUST learn to run a smooth hand off. Here are a few thoughts:

Leadership gifts aren’t enough – Just because someone is gifted to lead, doesn’t mean they’re ready to lead within your team. Until they know the play book and have established trust with the “offensive line”, handing them the ball would be risky at best.

Being talented isn’t enough – Someone may have all the talent in the world, but if they aren’t relational and can’t lead their way out of a paper bag, they aren’t qualified to lead on your team. Just because someone is athletic, doesn’t mean they’re ready to be a “running back”.

No one is a perfect leader – Sometimes even the best “running backs” fumble the ball. If you can’t be patient in developing your leaders, you probably won’t develop many. If you let go of the ball to soon, you’re not giving the “runner” a chance to be successful.

Not everyone pans out –  Every once in a while things just don’t work out. Be ready to make a switch if needed. Don’t pull the trigger too soon, but don’t keep the struggling “runner” in the game so long that the team suffers.

In the end, developing and empowering leaders is a huge ministry challenge. WE won’t always get it right and THEY won’t always live up to expectations, but remember…the season is long. Be patient with your leaders, invest in them heavily and, when the time is right, make sure they have the tools needed for a successful hand off.

Decisions, Decisions…

decision

Decision aren’t always easy to make. Sometimes we waffle back and forth for days just trying to come to some kind of conclusion. Ministry decisions can be even harder. Every decision you make needs to line up with the vision of your organization. That, along with the knowledge that the decisions you make could effect your team, your congregation and ultimately the community you’re called to reach, can render decision making an exhausting exercise. Here are a few things that have always helped me out along the way…

Pray – This seems like the obvious“Christianese” thing to say, but how often do we forget to bring our decision making process before the throne of God? How often do we make “shot in the dark” choices without seeking His guidance?

Counsel – Don’t make the tough decisions alone. Get with your team and weigh your options together. More often than not, the right choice is found in the midst of fellowship.

Go Slow – Don’t rush a decision simply because you don’t want to look like you can’t figure out what to do. Sometimes God needs us to slow down and work through the finer nuances of a situation before we move forward.

Consider the Cost – Weigh out what this decision means in regards to your team, congregation and ministry target. Sometimes the answer you’re looking for is found in considering it’s impact on those you serve.

Humility – Sometimes we simply get it wrong. We make a decision and somewhere down the road realize we blew it. Be humble enough to admit you made the wrong choice and work hard to find an alternative.

Choose – In the end, if you’re a leader, people are looking to you for direction, vision and decision making. You don’t have the luxury of sitting back and choosing to do nothing. Seek God and make a choice…to decide nothing is not an option.

It’s not always easy to lead a ministry. We’re all human and we will all fall short as leaders, you can count on it. However, if you seek God, surround yourself with a great team and strive towards the vision God has given you, you’ll find that your decisions hit the target consistently.

Raise, Build and Get Out of the Way

team_2

This Sunday I had the chance to experience our worship environment from a different perspective. I wasn’t on stage, I wasn’t at the soundboard, I wasn’t running lights or video…I was simply there. When it comes to running a creative ministry, it really gets no better than watching your team do what they do…and do it well. From a leadership standpoint, there is no greater moment than when someone steps in to lead people, hits it out of the park and does so without you standing next to them.

A vibrant creative ministry, at its core, is all about raising up leaders, building teams and getting out of the way. If your creative teams and processes center around you and only you…it won’t be long before your ministry is drained of any kind of momentum. Forward motion will become a thing of the past and you will simply find yourself stuck in one place. 

Great creativity cannot thrive in one place…it needs to move, breath and expand. Great creative ministries are really no different. If you want momentum…Raise up people, build your teams…and get out of the way!

Questions

question

If I’ve learned anything over my years in ministry, it’s to not be afraid to ask questions. There are a lot of benefits to understanding the “why” behind the “what”. I’ve also learned that there are no stupid questions. Sometimes, we’re simply not on the same wavelength as everyone else and we need to ask our way towards understanding.

We had a great example of this here at Sunnybrook last week. We’re launching a series later this fall centered around 3 facets of God (Father, Forgiver and Friend). My creative team jumped all over this one and we had some great ideas right off the bat…but we just couldn’t make it all fit together. As we read through the series outline from our Sr. Pastor, we realized we were missing some of the pieces…we didn’t quite get where he was wanting to take the series. So…we asked. We had him sit in with us at the next creative team meeting and within 30 minutes had a total understanding of the vision behind this series. If we hadn’t of asked, we would have fell short. The creative pieces wouldn’t have matched the vision and the effectiveness of the message would have been muted.

As leaders, not only do we need to willingly ask questions, we also need to be receptive to questions being asked of us. The same principle applies. If your team doesn’t have a clear understanding of the vision behind the mission, then your success as a ministry will be muted.

There’s one simple rule to follow: When in doubt…ask.

10 Things I Have A Lot of Respect For

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People who disagree with a ministry decision I have made and actually connect with me to talk about it.

Pastor’s who allow their creative team to create effectively by continually clarifying the vision.

Artists who know how to express themselves but also understand how to follow direction.

Leaders who say what they mean and back up what they say.

People who serve willingly with a smile on their face.

People who will give an honest critique instead of blowing smoke.

Musicians who enjoy the art of collaboration.

Creative confidence wrapped in spiritual humility

Churches that make a difference no matter the cost rather than counting the cost before trying to make a difference.

Transparency, transparency, transparency

The Right Pace

pace

So much of ministry is about pace, especially when it comes to any kind of transition. The desire to implement at the speed of light can bring disaster, while moving to slow can cause momentum loss. The reality is, without a clear vision, determining the right pace for moving forward is impossible. Anything from a new children’s curriculum to a new worship style becomes a battle when the vision is fuzzy.

Here at Sunnybrook, there is a clear, God sized vision…but that doesn’t mean we are transition free. We are always moving forward, changing here, tweaking there, all in an effort to fulfill the vision God has laid out for us. We are always in transition.

In this environment, understanding that some changes require patience is vital. There are many things we will be implementing in the coming weeks, while there are many other things that could be done tomorrow, but ultimately need to wait. The pace of change is important. God has a “long-term” vision for His church, not a “get it all done by tomorrow” vision. Leaning into God, listening to His leading and having your hand on the pulse of your community and congregation will ultimately help you set the right pace.