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Interviewing High Potential Ministry Candidates

Interviewing

It is exciting times here at my church, First Church. We are seeing a ton of great things happening at the time of writing of this blog this morning. To focus on just one of those items I now have the privilege, being my pastors’ executive pastor, of assisting my lead pastor in interviewing new potential candidates. Yes, we have hired recently a new Harvest Bible Institute Pastor (we have an accredited Bible School starting at our church in the fall of 2017). Then we also hired a new facility building manager and now we are looking for a new worship pastor.

In this process, it has been confirmed some lessons that I have learned over the years about high capacity leaders that you want on your team really do things differently. This applies even when they interview, and you can see this through their questions and their answers to your strategically asked questions. I will take on today sharing some of my questions and what I learn from asking each one.

  • What were the things in your last position that energized you the most and what zapped your energy the most? 

This is kind of easy to see the benefits of asking this question. Some of the obvious takeaways would be seeing what gifts and tools they will be bringing to the table and the areas that they would prefer to stay away from. Areas that people gain energy from they will choose to stay there more often than the areas they don’t gain energy from. How much of the areas that drain them are really parts of the ministry they are applying for? While answering this also keep listening for a humble spirit especially when they are talking about their areas that they gain energy from.

  • What were the problems areas for you in your past position/ministry and do you see any of those potentially being here in this position? 

This is about adaptability. Listen to what problems they identify and how did they adapt to them? Problems will always be in every ministry/position but how does this potential person adapt to the challenges?

  • If you were hired for this position, what would be your game plan for the first 3 months?

Here is a question that will show a couple items about the interviewee. First, it allows the person to showcase some of their creativity. Secondly, it allows you to see how much they have researched your church and the ministry they are applying for. High capacity leaders do their homework. This is an area for the person to show you what specific things they know about your church, the good and the bad. One more thing this can show you is how well have they grasped what success would like in this role.

There are a few more strategic questions I enjoy asking, but, I will leave it at these for now. Some of you may be thinking, you just gave the questions you use in interviewing and people can prepare better now. I would say, you are correct! Bottom line is, High capacity leaders are prepared and do their homework. So if they have found this post and can benefit from it, they should be rewarded for doing their homework.

What questions would you add to this list?

3 Questions for better productivity

Team work is some of the most gratifying time for me. I love working on teams, being on teams, and leading teams. With teams can come a boat load of questions and for every team member you have, they represent a possible different schedule than what you have set up with your ideal schedule. Does this mean productivity can never be accomplished? Absolutely not. It does mean that training will need to take place in order for true productivity to happen.

Here is one quick way that I try to set those I do executive coaching for up for success. Learn these 3 questions and you’re on your way to better productivity.

When you are in your block of time for open/close door type work (maybe I’ll write more this at another time) and your team members start stopping in because they want to get your comments, thoughts, suggestions etc. and they pitch the issue or problem they are having, ask yourself these 3 questions.

1. Is it important?
Remember that just because something is communicated to you in urgent tones doesn’t mean it is actually
important. And just because it registers as important to someone else doesn’t mean it’s automatically important to you.

2. Is it important for you to do it?
Really think about this one. Pausing to decide if it lines up with your passion and skill is a good
move. There may be someone else on the team who is better suited to tackle the problem. If so, delegate.

3. Is it important now?
Even granting that it is important and important for you, that doesn’t mean it’s important now. You may be able to file it under the list of things to be done when you are doing more routine tasks.

Become very familiar with these 3 questions. If you still struggle with this, it might come down to a leadership issue. Do you find an unhealthy amount of significance from solving team problems? Do you have the right people on the team? Have you empowered them to act?

New day in ministry with a virtual assistant

I have entered a new season of ministry here at First Church DSM. I went from being the family pastor to being the executive pastor of family and ministry operations. For the first time since I started in Full-Time ministry back in 1992, I feel a little out of it as I try to figure out what I am doing now and the best way to do it.

In comes, the greatest tool my church could have allowed me to have. What is that tool you ask? Her name is Laura, my virtual assistant from Belay. Take out the part of her not physically being in my office area at the church and not being able to run an errand or two, Laura has been the best ministry gift from my church to me in this new position.

It has only been 2 weeks so far but Laura and I have really started dialing in how we can work the best with one another. I’ll describe some of the tools and ways we are using them that would benefit anyone working with an admin, virtual or physical. Let’s begin.

Slack is where it all starts for us. We use slack instead of texting. Organize your team conversations in open channels. Make a channel for a project, a topic, a team, or anything—everyone has a transparent view of all that’s going on. For sensitive information, create private channels and invite a few team members. We use Direct Messages just like you would a text. Then in slack you can take a conversation from typing to face-to-face by starting a voice or video call in any Channel or Direct Message. Make one-on-one or group calls right from Slack without needing to open another app or share invite links.

Trello is where we put our projects as we work on them. A Trello board is a list of lists, filled with cards, used by Laura and I. It’s a lot more than that, though. Trello has everything you need to organize projects of any size.

Dropbox is where we will put all finished projects. For example, every year we run an Easter outreach. We will communicate with one another through slack, and add team members into that slack so we will have a one stop talk area for all things Easter that year. We will track all that communication over projects and due dates etc that we keep in an Easter Trello board. Once the budgets, ideas, checklist, vendor information, brochures created, and so much more we will take all of that and place it in our Drop Box Easter folder so that next year we will just go to the Easter folder and have a great starting point.

Evernote is more of our personal file cabinet.Big ideas, little details, and everything in between. Anything that matters to you can be captured in a note, ready for when you need it. Surfing the web and find a great article or blog that you enjoy, web clip to Evernote. get an email you want to file that is from an actual mailing list you want to be part of email it to your Evernote account. Take a picture of something you see that you want to remember later for a possible new stage design for your church, add into Evernote. Want the business card from the person you are meeting with but tired of having all these loose business cards or not having them ready to use when you need them, take a picture and add it into Evernote. Then have all of this and so much more available in real-time from any of your devices. That there is the real kicker for this tool. Available and searchable at any time even with pictures.

Lastly, Laura and I are finding that using doing a weekly zoom call to touch base “in person” keeps us in touch with the tone of what is going on for all week through slack, Trello, dropbox, and evernote. Belay has done a fantastic job of matching me with an assistant that works like I do. Even after they give you one they follow-up over the next couple weeks as well to make sure it is all going well. They interviewed me and found out my personality and made sure they gave me an admin that would fit.

Bottom line, it’s a new day in ministry with having a virtual assistant.

How time management is handled all wrong

I am a task management junkie who continues to strive to be a task management ninja.

One of the many struggles over the years for me has been handling the idea of keeping a separate to-do list apart from my calendar. If the items I would put on a to-do list are to be accomplished, would they not have to be added on the calendar? Yes they would!

This is exactly why I have stopped the madness of trying to keep a separate to-do list. It does mean I don’t get to play with other apps on my phone or in my web browser, but, that has meant more productivity. The simple act of scheduling tasks on your calendar instead of on a to-do list will increase performance. With most calendars., there are places to add notes, reminders etc. to aid in getting said task done, use them.

As this process takes off for you, it may become overwhelming because the first instinct is to fill every time slot with something. Having every time slot filled would look like your being productive, right? Wrong. To a skilled eye looking at someone’s filled calendar, it says they don’t know what they are doing yet. I know, seeing empty places can make you feel like you should be doing more, but resist. It is important to leave buffers in your day.

What’s a buffer? A buffer is a block of time that you schedule to do nothing scheduled. Take a nap, search the web for fun, read a book, take a walk, review notes from a previous meeting, relax. These scheduled buffer times will help you not run from meeting to meeting.

The CEO of LinkedIn, Jeff Weiner, wrote a blog post describing how he blocks time on his calendar. He wrote:

“If you were to see my calendar, you’d probably notice a host of time slots greyed out but with no sign of what’s going on. There is no problem with my Outlook or printer. The grey sections show ‘buffers,’ or time periods I’ve purposely kept clear of meetings.

In aggregate, I schedule between 90 minutes and two hours of these buffers every day (broken down into 30- to 90-minute blocks). It’s a system I developed over the last several years in response to a schedule that was becoming so jammed with back-to-back meetings that I had little time left to process what was going on around me or just think.

At first, these buffers felt like indulgences. I could have used the time to catch up on meetings I had pushed out or said “no” to. But over time I realized not only were these breaks important, they were absolutely necessary in order for me to do my job.”

Here are a few suggestions for this week as you become more of the Task management Ninja that we all desire to be.

  • Move more to your calendar than on your separate to-do list.
  • Find a couple of times a day to put in place buffers. Try to make the buffers at least 10-15 minutes a piece.

Better Use of my to-do list

laptop on table copy

It is a little embarrassing to admit how I have used a to-do list whenever I did use one. I am into embarrassing myself a little though so I will admit that my use to do list have not been good.

What I am leaving behind:
* Trying to stack my list with everything so I have more boxes to check off
* Systems that award me for checking boxes off. My competitive side draws me in to add things just so again, I can check them off.
* Creating a random order of to-do’s
* Working with a to-do list that takes me to watch video tutorials to understand how to use it throughout the day.

Now what I am going to:
1. K.I.S.S. method, Keep it simple Stupid. Trading in the quantity over quality mentality to be just the opposite. I will decide the night before the top 3-5 items only that will make the days to-do list.

2. Organize the list according to my energy level of the day. For me it is early a.m. that I have the most energy and excitement. It will be during this time I will schedule my most energy usage to-do to be done.

3. The limited to-do’s that I will have on my list will all have a verb.

These are only a few ways I will start to use a to-do list better.

How do you find using a to-do list is productive? What else should I have included in my list? I want to be the best steward of the time that God loans out to me by the task that will take place in that time.

Jump start your children’s ministry with job descriptions

charging cables

Andy Partington is one of my Grad students of Kidology Coaching and the Minister to Preschoolers and Children at First Baptist Minden, Louisiana. You can find out more about him at www.andypartingtonblog.com

All good things begin with a plan. Filling a spot in children’s ministry is no exception. Here are some tips to help you create a super job description for your ministry that will help you define, explain, and ultimately sell this job to the right person.

Here’s the Hook

Every story I’ve ever loved hooked me from the beginning line. In your job description start out with a brief introduction that really speaks to what the job is about. The truly passionate volunteer will read this brief, paragraph long opening and want to read more.

Let’s say you need a Game leader for Kid’s Church. Your introductory paragraph should definitely mention phrases like “opportunities to play with kids”, “stir excitement and light-hearted competition”, or “helping kinetic learners to grasp the lesson with both hands.” (It’s an active job. Use lots of action words!)

A good hook will help you to reel them in with the rest of the facts. The introduction is also the place to lay out the ground work for all the detail stuff to follow.

Benefits

“You mean, I get something for volunteering?”

Before you tell them all the stuff that they have to do, let them know what they get from serving. If they’re going to be privy to firsthand knowledge, if they’re going to be part of a dynamic team, if they’re going to get to lead the parade of ministry success, these things need to be listed here in order for them to see that being a part of this ministry means something, and has some pretty neat perks too.

Responsibilities

Alright, you just laid out all the great swag that they’ll get from serving. Now, it’s time to tell them what they’ll actually be doing. A well-defined list of responsibilities not only keeps a volunteer on task, it lets them know right up front what’s expected of them. Also, laying out these responsibilities from the top will keep you from having to redefine and re-present them again and again.

Time Commitment

People are busy. Giving your volunteers a heads up on how much time they’ll be spending in a given field will help prevent burn out and let those special Children’s ministry champions plan ahead on giving the right amount of time to be successful.

Length of Commitment

Sometimes volunteers need a season of down time. It helps to give a set time that they’ll be serving. This can vary by position. A Sunday School teacher could work anywhere from a quarter to a full year. A nursery volunteer could roll off each month. Don’t hesitate to put this in writing. If the volunteer is passionate about the ministry, they can always sign-up for a longer commitment.

Training and Equipping

It’s very important to let your volunteers know that they’ll get the training and resources that they need to do the job well. This part of the job description is the perfect place to let them know how you’ll have their back. It also gives them an idea of how much time they’ll be spending in meetings, conferences, and training seminars.

Qualifications

What are some of the commitments that you’re asking your volunteers to present?
In your job description, let your volunteers know what skills they need to have to successfully complete the task.

Special Qualifications

This is a great place to list those special passions that you’re looking for in your next children’s ministry teammate. This is that final spot to really lay out the type of person that will be used in your particular ministry or program.

Actions for guaranteed improvement

walking around mentorship

That title makes a strong statement, but if this one BIG idea and the suggestions that follow are committed to you will experience guaranteed improvements regardless of what level you may be operating at in your ministry.

BIG Idea:
Live out Management by walking around. This idea is extremely important and a must do.

My yard outside my house has really reinforced the lesson of “management by walking around” for me. To have a great yard, you have to walk it and pull even the small weeds. If I spend a little time every week walking my yard and pulling weeds that I notice, my yard stays healthy. Once I stop and the weeds don’t get attention, they come back and begin to choke out the health of my yard.

So to keep up a healthy yard or a healthy ministry we must practice “Management by walking around.” Here are some results that you can experience –

1.Showing your team you do care about them because the interest you will show in them by the questions you ask about them and what they are doing. This will create a stronger team.

2. Helps you create tailored coaching and training times. You will notice several things that in your mind you will say, “I wish they would do it this way or that way”. They won’t be big things but they would improve your service and ministry that you offer to the people. You can custom fit solutions to what is actually going on in your ministry.

3. On the job training instead of waiting for the end of year review and dragging all the cold and old stuff out. Now it can be done in real-time.

What would add to this list?

How to choose what to delegate in your children’s ministry

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The critical issue of what to delegate is often times one of the hardest starting points for many children’s pastors that I get the opportunity to coach, mentor and just network with.

I will start with a thought that many do not take into consideration and then I will do my best to explain why when it comes to delegation it’s wise to start with this thought.

You should only delegate projects that have a benefit for both you and the person being delegated to. People resent dumping of low-level tasks that offer no learning opportunity. When volunteers feel this is happening they will begin to discharge themselves from your ministry. Do remember though, what may be a low-level task to one may not be that same thing to another. This is why its important to know your team.

How do you know what to delegate and to who?

List your projects or tasks. Never delegate part of a project or piece of work. This avoids the accusation of dumping the dull parts of a project while keeping the best bits for yourself.

Estimate time required. Calculate the number of hours you would expect each project or task to take. 

Estimate the cost. Work out the hourly cost of yourself and your team members. This cost is not always financial. Cost comes in many forms. Sometimes it can be the cost of what is it keeping the person from doing if they are working on a certain project. Is it within a certain skill set of the person being delegated to or is there going to be a learning curve and skill set curve.

Map into a table. It should now be possible to work out the cost of each project or task depending on who is delivering it. This should show you clearly the difference in cost if you complete a project or if a member of your team does. Three groups should emerge: high, medium and low cost. 

Estimate Return On Investment (ROI). Once you understand the cost groups, then you need to know the value of that project to your organization. For each project and task set a high, medium and low ROI. 

Select projects for delegation. You can now put together your cost group with your ROI group. Low cost and low ROI go together, medium cost and medium ROI go together and so on. 

This technique allows you to delegate the right projects to the right team member based on simple cost and ROI analysis. This is not a magical formula and should only serve as a broad process but at least in this way there is some logic to what you choose to delegate. Remember delegation is also about developing the team member so giving them a project which is in the group above (for example a high ROI project to a medium cost member of staff) is good practice.

With a good process in place it is easier to show your confidence in the great team that God is working with you in getting established. Now go and make your map, challenge your team, empower them to be all they can be, all the while your ministry is accomplishing what God wants it to accomplish.

Better Children’s Ministries go beyond capture to execution

Yesterday I spent talking about how important it is to have a method of capturing everything from ideas, resources, talks, pictures and more. Today I want to continue this direction in once everything is captured how do you use it? To just have these resources will not benefit you unless you have a practical way of moving them into execution.

There are 2 tools that I use to help move things from the capture to execution. The first one I want to talk about briefly here is Trello. Trello for me is used with people, my team, volunteers, and leaders. I spend a little time every Monday going through Evernote and moving some items from there to Trello. These items are the agenda that I want to carry out with teams of people to an personal secretary, bottom line, want to carry out with others. This tool for me use to Omnifocus. The disadvantage of Omnifocus is it cost and for teams to work together everyone has to pay. Trello on the other hand is free. this is what has brought me back to Trello.

Trello allows me to take my behind the curtain catch-all (Evernote) and bring some of it public. Invite as many people as you want to a board. Board members can all add cards, make changes, upload attachments, and more. Changes made by others seem instantaneously on your screen. You never have to wait for a page to reload to see the latest. Email notifications and an activity log keep you informed of the latest changes. You can also subscribe to specific cards to get timely information on what you care about the most. Trello keeps a record of everything that’s happened on the card: comments, changes, additions. You’ll never wonder “How did that happen?” again.

Lastly about Trello, there is an app for your phone and for your computer. This way no matter if you are sitting at your laptop or even more mobile by your phone, Trello is ready to keep you productive.

Next we will spend some time discussing my last tool, Workflowy.

What methods do you have established to bring your great ideas and resources to execution?

The Power of a Half Hour

The-Power-of-a-Half-Hour

Todays blog post is over one of the newest books I have finished reading, The Power Of A Half Hour by Tommy Barnett. Below is a snippet from his book.

“Turn your fleeting minutes into defining moments. What can you do in thirty minutes? Have lunch? Watch television? Check Facebook? How about change your life? Why do some people achieve far more than others? We all get the same twenty-four hours in a day, yet a special few seem to have superhuman abilities when it come to accomplishing great things in life. Why not change time from being your worst enemy to your everlasting friend? It all starts with the amazing things you can do in only a half hour.”

After reading a snippet like the one above, and knowing about the author and all that he has done as a pastor and is still doing as a pastor my expectations for this book may have been too high. Because as I started reading it I quickly realized it was not what I was expecting. I did as Tommy suggested at the start of his book, to only reading the book for 30 minutes a day until the book was done. I’m sure this book is proving to be a blessing for some, because I went out there to read how others were rating this book and found they tend to rate this higher than I am going to.

It is my recommendation to do your homework on this book and the actual content of what Pastor Barnett is discussing to see if this is where you are at and your hidden desire for the answers or guidance you want to take from this book. For me, the basic points of breaking your day down into 30 minutes segments is extremely basic and missed the mark for me this time.

The back of the book includes personal action plans referring to each chapter and a small group discussion guide that may prove to be helpful for some. I am sure it is Pastor Tommy’s intent that this book will help you to review how you use your time and how to be more intentional about using time wisely.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for the purpose of reviewing with my opinion.

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