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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.

Work Your P.L.A.N. for Ministry Success

Planning concept. 3d rendered image

I know there always feels like in ministry that there is so much to do and to get done. How do you tackle the things you need to do? Get rid of the things you should not be doing? Keep your teams focused and going all in the same direction?

There is a way to use the word PLAN which could be used as a tool to help keep you moving along with your mission. One place that has recorded using this PLAN is over on: Fuller Youth Institute.

Originally published as “Evaluation Part 2: Planning the Work and Working the P.L.A.N.” by Mark Maines for FYI in April 2006.

Priorities
Lasting Results
Action Strategies
Next Steps

By tackling these questions in succession, many have found that their ministries can stay more focused on the mission, more informed about what to do next, and more accountable to see those plans through. Here’s basically what it looks like:

Priorities:

What we want to carry out.
What are the most important things we need to do in our key ministry areas to move our mission forward?
What are the things we need to do and complete in the coming year? Coming months? Coming weeks? Coming days?
Lasting Results: Setting the targets for performance

Lasting Results:

What will be the results that will help us know we have accomplished our priorities?
How will we set these targets so that they become an exercise in faith as well as effective leadership?
Action strategies: Setting the stage for execution

Action Strategies:

How will we go about accomplishing what we want to see happen?
What are the right strategies, or best practices, that we might use?

Next Steps:

Making our “to do” lists
Who will do the work?
When will it be accomplished?

Have you made your P.L.A.N. for ministry success?
What tools do you use to keep you moving forward with your mission?

Successful budgeting for children’s ministry

MoneySurf

I am sure at the time of this writing many of you are going through what i am going through, the budget process. Even if you are not going through it at the time of reading this I would recommend sending this to your Evernote web clipper account for future use.

Here is one way of budgeting but it has brought my team and I great success for the next year of ministry.

We create what we call a success map. This is a document of 5-7 BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) that will need all the children’s ministries to tackle in the new year for success to be had. I am the one who puts those 5-7 goals out there but they mostly show the big goals my pastor has for our church. The main difference is that I will convert what I get from him into language that my teams can take on.

Example:
A. My pastor wants to create new ways to reach into our community.
B. I will translate into – Each cm department will create at least 1 new way to reach new families in our community that will equal a 5% gain of your current attendance.

After I have heard my pastor’s heart, set the children’s ministries 5-7 BHAG’s, given this to all my coordinators they go away and answer how each of their departments will help in accomplishing the BHAG’s. They will also add in some of their own ministry goals for their teams as well, and break these goals into quarters through the year. Some BHAG’s can not be accomplished in just one attempt and so many of them will continually be chipped at throughout the year, but at the end it can be said if they accomplished it or not.

The purpose of breaking everything into quarters is so all the coordinators can keep one another accountable for progress through the year.

Budgeting comes easy now that we know what we want to do, because we just go back in and assign dollar amounts to the quarterly goals. Using the example from above:
BHAG Goal:

1. Each cm department will create at least 1 new way to reach new families in our community that will equal a 5% gain of your current attendance.

January-March
Event/Place: Safe Place event. (Parents can drop their kids off for babysitting with our trained volunteers for free so they can go on a date, work late, catch up on whatever etc. from 4pm-7pm 1st Saturday each month).

Cost: Pizza to feed kids. 200 kids x $2.00 each child = $400.00 x 3 1st Saturdays = $1200.00

Hopefully you get the idea. You would keep pricing out all your goals and assign dollar amounts and at the end you will know what you want to do, the amount you will need etc. This is not the format we use with our success maps, that you will need to decide what is best for you. This is the formula we use though for successful budgeting in our children’s ministry. It also helps to see ahead of time what months are going to be more expensive than others if we need to make any adjustments.

Stop the lie: not enough time. Face the truth: poor priorities

frantic man

I hear all the time from so many people as they rush around claiming they do not have enough time to get it all done. I strongly disagree!

I can hear many of you yelling at your monitor now: “Todd I am not wasting my time either.” You may be correct with that statement as well.

So, what is holding you back from getting your stuff done? I believe for many it is bad habits that have crept in unknowingly. Secondly it is “busy work” that holds you hostage.

To free up time for the proper task for you it is imperative that you know where your time is going now. Use a journal, use an app, whatever is best for you but track honestly your time spent and how it was spent each day. Do this for a few weeks (this is why most do not ever succeed here is because of the investment of truly discovering how your time is spent).

Once you have a good record of time spent look it over and see if you are giving an unhealthy amount of your time to items that pay back the least toward where God is heading? Have the courage to make the adjustments necessary to give most of your time to items that payback the most for your time.

Keep in mind, that most of the time people are wanting to add instead of subtract. The reason many have when creating time/task-management systems is for the sole purpose of just adding more into their everyday lives. Why not subtract and with what you do invest in make it those items that pay back the most for you?

What are some items you do that could be stopped?

What items pay you back the most for your time and efforts?

What will it take to stop these items and focus on the items to stay?

My method of delegation.

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The more I talk with people the more I realize delegation is not as understood as I assume. It is with this new understanding that I want to offer up the method of delegation that I have been taught over the years. I am not claiming this is original (hopefully a lot of people use these steps) and it is only one way, but it is mine and it works for me when followed.

Too often delegation is poorly executed, frustrating both the person delegating and the person being delegated to. There should be a benefit for both parties but often one or both parties feel dissatisfied.

Here is one approach to delegation:

1. Define. You need to know exactly what you are going to delegate. Don’t be vague.
2. Plan. Write down how you will present this task. List potential concerns and objections
3. Select. Which of your team has the best skills to deliver the results.
4. Explain. Tell the person why the task is important and why they are right for it.
5. Define success. Be clear about what success looks like, if possible with a measurable target.
6. Set limits. Let them know what they are accountable for and where they can get help. Don’t forget that last part. Oftentimes after delegation has started the person working on it runs into a snag and has no idea where to turn to for some help or guidance. Here is one way you separate delegation from dumping.
7. Invite doubt. Many volunteers start excited when delegated to but then feel that expressing doubt about the project or their ability is a sign of weakness. Encourage them to ask questions and assess the project on their own terms. Also take note of the previous point in number six.
8. Get commitment. Don’t expect immediate agreement. Give them time to think it over. Never rush this stage.
9. Agree. Set milestones and time lines and how you will monitor progress. Get them to suggest as much of this as possible.
10. Recognize and reward. Successful completion of a delegated project or task should mean something. Be clear from the outset how much value you place on it and reflect that in the reward you offer.

There you go, 10 steps I find useful when I want to delegate task and responsibilities

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