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Resist turning a temporary into a permanent situation

change ahead

Too often in children’s ministry I coach children’s pastors through sticky situations which a new policy was created because of a situation that “everyone” was complaining about.

You may have already recalled a few times where you went through this same thing. The voice of “everyone” can be extremely loud at times. I have learned a few things about “everyone” that has created in me a time to sort through and investigate more when “everyone” pops up. This slow down process and investigation has helped me to create a process I go through now before I go and change or create all new rules, processes, systems or just about anything.

Here are the steps my temporary situations must go through before I consider a permanent solution:

1. Do I know the history.
Often times when temporary situations come up they have come up before. There is someone who has some background info on these situations. I will ask my Pastor or other pastors on staff to get more info on these items.

2. Is it consistent?
Before I make a new policy or a major change I want to make sure it’s not an isolated incident. I’m not going to make a new policy because one child or parent. If I start to see that “everyone” really is turning into everyone, then I will create the permanent.

3. Am I Acting or Reacting?
Some situations seem bigger than they are. We all get sick children in our ministries for an example from time to time and maybe with the flu running rapid, we’re tempted to go nuts and treat every kid with a sniffle like they’ve got the plague. I always want to be sure that I’m not just reacting to the high-pressure of a temporary situation created by the voices of “everyone”. In the heat of the moment, especially when dramatic people are involved, it can be tempting to start creating changes and new policies until the storm passes.

4. Define the “Everyone”.
You have heard a lot about the “everyone” but who are they exactly? This is exactly what you must find out. Often times when you hear that “everyone” is saying this or that, ask specifically who the “everyone” is, and often you find out it is not “everyone” but only 2-3 people.

There you go, some quick steps that I go through before I will change a temporary to a permanent.

Goal planning process

Apple journal

I was torn on what I wanted to title this post, because the bottom line is everyone could have a different approach to goal planning. The power of goal setting isn’t up for debate though – I know of no one who’s been successful (however you may define it) who hasn’t had personal and professional goals and then walked towards them through a process. It almost doesn’t matter how you manage them as long as it works for you.

Whatever process you use it must create momentum toward your goals. Here is basically my process that has developed over time that works well for me.

1. Write it Down – There’s power in simply writing down your ideas. Putting it down makes it real. Writing my ideas down have always had a dangerous feel to me because they may be discovered or accidentally read by some, but writing them down has still remained the first part of the process for me. I start in a notebook, like the one pictured above (the apple sticker is what I add to all of my journals so that I can say I only use apple stuff).

2. Tell your spouse – A goal worth achieving is a goal worth sharing. Sharing your idea creates accountability. I start with my wife because she is safe. I enjoy rolling the ideas around with her as she will often times offer another perspective and that only strengthens the idea.

3. Tell a small group of friends – Making it happen will most likely take a tribe but allow it to start with a small group first. After my wife and I have rolled the idea around, I then take it to a small group of friends to see how they respond to it. During this time is when I start to make it S.M.A.R.T.

4. Refine and Review – Any goal you have will most likely need to be reviewed and refined as you work towards it as there’s very few goals that are perfectly crafted right out of the gate. I review mine constantly to see that the progress is happening and it still is accomplishing the purpose I wanted it to.

That’s about it. What is your process?

Team building the Nehemiah way part 3

Software: Microsoft Office

Depending on how you landed on this page, allow me to urge you before reading this post to start over on part 1, then go to part 2, then come back here to finish with part 3.

In Nehemiah’s third part of building successful teams, Nehemiah kept the teams focused on the big picture and their part in it. The people didn’t need a retreat, or an offsite conference. They needed to get the rocks out of the valley below and placed in the wall, and to finish the job before their enemies could organize.

In pursuing this great task Nehemiah went through what many of us go through as we pursue task that are bigger than ourselves. Here are just a few of the potentially crippling issues that arose but Nehemiah dealt with each one capably.

* The people had to be reassured against violent threats from their enemies, so Nehemiah posted guards so the work would continue (4:16-18).

* Relational problems erupted, so he took corrective measures (5:6-8).

* Enemies sent messages to set fear in their hearts (6:1-9).

Working through these problems and brushing aside distractions, Nehemiah kept everyone focused on the Bigger picture and their part in it.

God used Nehemiah to carry out a huge task through teams. I know that God can do a lot through you as well if you will take the time to follow the same steps that Nehemiah followed.

How are you keeping your teams focused and involved with the big picture and their part in it?

Stop giving importance to the unscheduled

appointments

A New Year brings with it to many a new beginning. Often times that new beginning involves new habits. Those new habits often times involve becoming a better task manager and that means scheduling things better.

Why is it that after just a month or so many are back to feeling that their life is on the start again of spinning out of control? Just a few weeks ago they had all their calendars synced, appointments set, reviewed next day agenda the night before, and even bought the latest gadget, app or software to help with scheduling. Now it is all mixed up. Why?

The unscheduled often times trumps the scheduled and planned out. This should not happen and must change!

If you have an important team meeting on Tuesday, how would make sure you get there? You would put it in you calendar, of course. Nothing really magical about that. The fact that an important team meeting is on Tuesday allows the other activities in your day, and even your week, to fit around that appointment.

Unscheduled events will conform to scheduled events. If it was important enough to add to your calendar first stop allowing those unscheduled appointments to take the place of the scheduled. I know for me that if I have added an appointment on my calendar the only items that can challenge the already scheduled would be my family, or my boss. If I keep up enough courage to keep the scheduled appointment those unscheduled appointments really do form around the already scheduled.

Try it, you just may find that it works.

Top 2012 Posts

Top4

I will jump in with everyone and do my end of the year most viewed post for 2012.

1. The need for communication in children’s ministry and part 2 Needed communication in children’s ministry .

Summary: With these 2 post I basically explain why, how and what I use to communicate with the different audiences that all of us children’s pastors must be ready to communicate with. Often times it is a lack of proper communication that causes a many derailment to children’s ministries.

2. A difference between the front and the back of the house

Summary: Due to my past training in management through the restaurant field, I have established for myself a clear direction in what I refer to as front of the house (example: check in counters, greeters) and back of the house (snack runners, sound etc.). In each area you there is a different feel and different public responsibilities.

3. Value or non-value added ministry efforts

Summary: This was a very painful 6 month self discovery where God challenged me to think through what things I do everyday, every week, and every month that are truly adding value to the ministry He has called me to here at my church.

4. Effective meetings can happen and Effective meetings can happen part 2

Summary: The title really covers it. I give tips to turn your meetings into EFFECTIVE meetings so that everyone will feel that their time, thoughts and contributions are appreciated. EFFECTIVE meetings should energize, give direction and inspire confidence about what your team can achieve.

I am going to stop with my top 4. Why 4? Because everyone else is doing top 5, top 10, top 12 because of 2012, top 13 because of 2013, top 20 etc. I will have mine to be just a top 4.

Hope you enjoy.

My process for reading and digesting books final part 3

lessons_learned apple

To get the most out of this make sure you have read Part 1, Part 2.

Now onto the last part.

People fail to get the most out of a book because they don’t have a system in place to get the most and best info from the book and carry out the key ideas from the book that will benefit their lives. I have two systems, one for extracting key ideas and principles from the book and placing them in a system so they are not lost and another system to integrate new ideas into our lives. This is why I have come to the place of being ok to put a book down if it is not good in my opinion. My time is too valuable to read something that is not full of benefit for me.

The first step is to capture key ideas and principles. Fortunately, there are some tools available for use which can be adapted to help in capturing ideas. Personally I prefer to use a Evernote to capture ideas and principles from the books I read. The result is a collection of easily searchable notes I use to integrate new ideas and principles into my life.

The second step is to have a system to carry out and integrate those ideas into my personal life. Knowledge without application is useless. It’s only as we allow new ideas and principles to change our lives that we become wise. There is nothing that will cause you to grow more than when attempting to put new ideas and principles into action. I do this using a “Action list” which I review daily. I review this list every morning to orientate my day and I then attempt to apply some of these principles throughout the work day. I do this until new habits are formed. Usually around 21-30 days.

Other strategies I use to help with implementation are:

1. Teaching others these new ideas and principles. To teach is one of the best ways to learn and clarify new ideas.

2. Create reminders and check ups, in my calendar.

To integrate and apply what we learn requires us to be intentional, setting aside time to practice, experiment and apply new ideas. To systemise then I use the following key principles:

1. Extract key ideas and principles from the book.
2. File them into a system so they can be easily located when required.
3. Use a system, a step-by-step approach, to carry out and integrate these new insights into my life.
4. Set a deadline for the implementation.
5. Develop reminders, questions or even posters to keep you motivate and focused.
6. Teach what I have learned to others.
7. Experiment with the ideas and principles as I wrestle with implementation.

Taming your email inbox through TTP

A recent conversation I just had with someone went something like this:

Me: Hey my friend I am still waiting for your answer on the last email I sent you 3 days ago.
Friend: You sent me an email?
Me: I did. I put in the subject line, “Need your answer soon!”
Friend: I am so sorry my email box is so full I often lose track of what is in there or I accidentally delete emails I should have kept. Can you email me again?

Sound familiar? Some of us have had this conversation more often than we want to confess. Some of us reading this now were the ones who lost or didn’t respond to others email. Do we do this because we are ignoring people? Usually not, usually it is just due to email overload and not knowing how to get out from underneath it. I will share one method that you may want to try to see if it doesn’t help you tame that email inbox of yours.

Today, Tomorrow, Process
TTP is one system you may choose to start to tame the awful email inbox monster. The basics of it look something like this:

Create 3 folders labeled “Today”, “Tomorrow” and “Process”. Every email you receive you filter through these 3 folders. Ask yourself:
— Is this something that has to be done today?
— Is this something that could be taken care of tomorrow or within a day or so?
— Is this something that can be done later?

If an email task can be delegated for someone else to take care of then send it to them. Before you do though, add in subject line “Delegated”and due date. Then send and move the email to appropriate folder.

If email is something that does not need to be acted on, then delete it or archive it. I use my “Process” folder for emails that need no action but I want to read when I have time, like I get stats on my twitter, Facebook pages, newsletters etc.. I will set up rules/filters for many of these types of emails so that as they come in they will automatically get sent to my Process folder.

Now you can begin to take this new step toward beating the email monster.

Step One
Always ope your “tomorrow” folder first at the start of each new day. See if any of these emails need to be moved to the “today” folder.

Step Two
Now go to inbox and filter all emails through your new system of TTP. As you catch new newsletter subscriptions and the such in your inbox, make sure you keep adding them to your rules/filter so next time they will be caught for you.

Step Three
Open your “Today” folder and start working on them.

How often you work through your email will depend on your responsibilities. But don’t over-estimate the importance of going through your email too often. It is amazing how much we can cut down on checking email if we will allow ourselves to and no one seems to get hurt.

What system do you use if another one besides this?

Pedophiles a growing issue in our country.

Here are some very sad stats that effect so many kids and their families. If you are leading a ministry to kids and their families can you justify any longer not having a Policy and Procedure manual that will also cover some of these harder type topics?

Potential topics could include:
– Proper touch, hugs, sitting on laps etc.
– Rules on ratios and no one alone with kids
– Bathroom breaks and how they are handled
– Transportation and it should be handled
– Home visitations or guidelines for going to kids school events
– Social networking, emailing, writing cards etc to kids

Here you go, check these scary stats out and then see if you think of other vital policies to come up with to protect your church, the families in your ministries and your volunteers.

– One in five U.S. teenagers who regularly log on to the Internet say they have received an unwanted sexual solicitation via the web. Solicitations were defined as requests to engage in sexual activities or sexual talk, or to give personal sexual information. (Crimes Against Children Research Center)

– 75% of children are willing to share personal information online about themselves and their family in exchange for goods and services. (eMarketer)

– Only approximately 25% of children who encountered a sexual approach or solicitation told a parent or adult. (Crimes Against Children Research Center)

– One in 33 youth received an aggressive sexual solicitation in the past year. This means a predator asked a young person to meet somewhere, called a young person on the phone, and/or sent the young person correspondence, money, or gifts through the U.S. Postal Service. (Your Internet Safety Survey)

– “There are 400,000 registered sex offenders in the United States, and an estimated 100,000 of them are missing. They’re supposed to be registered, but we don’t know where they are and we don’t know where they are living. (Ernie Allen, President of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)

– 1 in 5 violent offenders serving time in a state prison reported having victimized a child. (BJS Survey of State Prison Inmates, 1991.)

– Convicted rapists report that two-thirds of their victims were under 18 and 58% of those said their victims were age 12 or under. (SexOffender.com)

– 90% of the rapes of children under 12 years old, the offender knew the victim. (SexOffender.com)

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