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Effectively Starting New Ministry Positions will Keep You Out of Trouble

Productive Start

New-season in my life started back in November of 2019. My family and I were hired by a church in Kentucky, Community Family Church. We were very excited to start the new adventure and wanted to start strong but not just pull out our bag of tricks. I turned to a great book titled The First 90 Days – Success Strategies for New Leader by Harvard professor Michael Watkins. When I had first read this book back in the day, it helped me in effectively starting my new ministry position which Kept me out of trouble. 

The First 90 Days can be broken down into 5 main topics; 

  1. Get yourself focused
  2. Learn your new role faster
  3. Choose the best strategy
  4. Make good things happen right away
  5. Build a winning team

I just knew this would be a good idea to break this book out of my library again and brush up on some of the key concepts. I first read this book several years before I started a new ministry. It served me well and helped me define my road-map for the first 90 days of my new role. To build the momentum that I needed and help me get my ducks in a row to provide a clear path to grow the ministry. I figured it would do the same again this time while helping me to stay away from just pulling that bag of tricks out which I see so many pastors do. 

Below I will do my best to summarize the main points of the book. It is good to keep in mind this is a business book and not specifically a ministry book, but as I have said, it is easy to convert the principles in this book to ministry. There is another book that has come out that I now own as well that is directed toward ministry and I think takes inspiration from this book titled: Every pastor first 180 days by Charles Stone.

Focus Yourself

  • Mentally prepare yourself for your new role.
  • Put the past behind you. What worked before won’t necessarily serve you well now. Don’t ignore what you don’t know.
  • Along those same lines; Establish a clear breakpoint. Celebrate the transition and then be done. Do whatever it takes to forget your old role and focus on the new.
  • Hit the ground running. At the 90 day mark, your boss, your peers, your direct reports expect you to be making an impact.
  • Look at your vulnerabilities. Identify your “problem preferences”. That is; the problem you prefer to work on. Make a point not to neglect the activities you do not enjoy or activities that do not come naturally.

Accelerate Your Learning

  • Define your learning agenda. What do you need to learn 1st, 2nd, 3rd?
  • Adopt a structured learning method. This is a favorite of mine! This step has served me quite well in the past.
  • Meet with your new boss and direct reports and ask the following questions;
      • What are the biggest challenges the organization (or team) is facing (or will face) in the near future?
      • Why is the organization (or team) facing (or going to face) these challenges?
      • What are the most promising unexploited opportunities for growth?
      • What would need to happen or the organization (or team) to exploit the potential of these opportunities?
    • If you were me, what would you focus on?

Match your Strategy to the Situation

  • Be sure to correctly diagnose the situation
    • Start-up. Is this a new team (or ministry)?
    • Turnaround. Are the groups in trouble and you need to get things back on track?
    • Realignment. Do you need to revitalize the project, team or processes?
    • Sustaining Success. Is this a well-oiled machine that you simply need to keep moving in the right direction?
  • Understand History. What got the team, ministry, church to the current state. Seek to understand history.
  • Focus your energy. Ask yourself;
    • How much emphasis will I place on learning versus doing?
    • How much emphasis will I place on offense versus defense?
    • What should I do to get some early wins?

Make good things happen right away

  • It is crucial to get some early wins. You want to make sure your boss, peers, and subordinates all feel that something new and good is happening.
  • Here are some of the most common mistakes that will prevent something new and good from happening;
    • Failing to focus. It’s easy to take on too much during a transition. The results can be disastrous.
    • Not taking the business situation into account. The definition of an early win will differ greatly based on the situation you are in.
    • Not adjusting to the corporate culture. If you are an outsider, make understanding the culture a high priority. I will blog on this for sure at a later time.
    • Failing to get wins that matter to your boss. Be it right, wrong or indifferent, if it’s not important to your boss, it’s not important.
    • Letting your means undermine your ends. Avoid being perceived as manipulative, underhanded or going against corporate culture.
  • Establish long term goals
    • Be consistent with organizational priorities.
    • Introduce the new patterns of behavior you want to install in the organization (or team).
  • Build your credibility. Your earliest actions with your new team will have a huge influence on how you are perceived.
  • Negotiate success (Part I). Engage with your new boss to establish realistic expectations. Here are a few things to avoid when engaging with your new boss;
    • Don’t trash the past. Nothing can be gained from criticizing your predecessors.
    • Don’t stay away. If your boss doesn’t reach out to you, reach out to him or her.
    • Don’t surprise your boss. Even bad news is OK as long as it is not a surprise.
    • Don’t approach your boss only with problems. Be sure to understand the problem and identify what you’ll (realistically) need before approaching your boss.
    • Don’t run down your checklist. It’s rare that your boss wants to hear every little thing you are working on.
    • Don’t try to change your boss. Adapt to his/her style rather than the other way around.
  • Negotiate success (Part II). Engage with your new boss to establish realistic expectations. Here are a few things you should do when engaging with your new boss;
    • Take 100% responsibility for making the relationship work.
    • Clarify mutual expectations early and often.
    • Negotiate timelines for diagnosis and actions.
    • Aim for early wins in areas that are important to your boss.
    • Try to get “good grades” from those whose opinions your boss respects.
  • Achieve Alignment. You want to make sure your organization or team is all marching in the same direction. Try to avoid some of the common mistakes;
    • Resist changing any structure until you understand whether the restructuring will address the root cause of any problems.
    • Creating structures that are too complex. Don’t over-engineer things.
    • Automate problem processes. If the process is flawed, fix the process first. Don’t be tempted to automate a flawed process.
    • Make changes for change’s sake.
    • Overestimate your team’s capacity to absorb change. Focus on a few vital priorities and make changes gradually if time permits.

Build your team

  • A high performing team can create tremendous value. Avoid the following common mistakes when creating your organizational plans;
    • Some leaders clean house too quickly, but it’s more common to keep people on-board too long.
    • Not repairing the airplane. Molding a team is like repairing a plane in mid-flight. You will not reach your destination if you ignore the necessary repairs.
    • Not holding on to good people.
    • Starting team-building before the core team is in place.
    • Trying to do it all yourself.
  • Assess your existing team. During your first 30-60 days, assess who is who, who are the high performers, who are the sub-par performers. Don’t suppress these early impressions, but take a step back from them and take the time to make a more vigorous evaluation.
  • If your success depends on the support of people outside your direct line of command, it’s important to create coalitions to get things done.
  • I will be blogging on most of this in more detail as I walk you through how I fleshed out each of these items.
  • When starting a new ministry or job, what steps from above are your strengths? Weaknesses? Which ones would you add to this?

The Red Book Mark Harper

“The Red Book” by Mark Harper should be on every shelf of every Children’s Ministry leader. It is a great ministry hand/guide-book that is easily digested with practical application steps.

This book covers the important aspects of Children’s Ministry. Mark doesn’t only tell you what those aspects are, He shares his own experiences, insights, and how you can put in place those ideas into your own ministry. Every chapter is short. When it comes to Ministry, there is a ton to unpack even if we’re only considering the most basic elements. Great nuggets of timeless wisdom and knowledge in every chapter. Steps you can follow the next Sunday.

I will admit, I had one part of the book in which I had a struggle with Mark and do not see eye to eye with this comment of his. On page 57 he writes: “In my opinion, too many of us have bought into this philosophy of “teach less for more.” I do agree with the idea of teaching less for more. The way Mark uses this thought is not correct. Mark writes how our kids are starving for the word of God. If you are starving then you feed that hunger. I agree we have people starving for the word of God and that we should feed them as much as possible. The “teach less for more” isn’t people like myself saying we need to teach less of Gods word. Let’s look instead at what we are doing in our services and make sure we have given the word priority over all the extra things. That is “teaching less for more”.

In my ministry, we have made small groups where the word can be shared in a way the kids can flesh it out. The “Word” has such a priority, that it gets more than half our time together each week. This time is what gives us more bang for our investment than anything else we can do.

Outside of this, this was an incredible refreshing book to read. I enjoyed this book so much that I am ordering it for all my leaders and I would urge you to do the same. I am using each short chapter as a stand-alone teaching in my pre-service huddles with my leaders.

Thanks, Mark Harper for such a great book that anyone of any church size can use.

Very Influential Person book review


The Bible says that God has “assigned to you an area of influence” (2 Corinthians 10:13). What will you do with it? O.S. Hawkins takes readers through what it takes to create a life of Vision, Influence, and Purpose in his newest book VIP.

When I picked this book out as one that I would review, I began anticipating its arrival in the mail. Finally, that day came when I could see this box in my mailbox and then a bitter-sweet experience took place. The sweet part was when I opened the box it was this book, the not so sweet part was the box was big the book was small. I sat down and read the book in one sitting. The book comes in at 118 pages and that is being generous.

Small book as it is, it does have some large nuggets of goodies. I enjoyed how O.S. Hawkins starts the book off explaining the problem with the assumed definition of V.I.P. and draws you into his reason for a new definition of V.I.P..

I will keep this review short in the same style as I mentioned the book was written as well, short. All said, I did enjoy the book and think it would be a good Graduation gift for students entering the work force. This is the idea I wrote down that I am thinking about using it for in the future. Another idea I wrote down was using it if you have an intern program at your church, use this as one of the books you take them through.

Enjoy. Now go and discover what area of influence God has assigned to you.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Big Red Bible Review

ICB artwork

The Big Red Bible from Thomas Nelson is formatted for children, ages 6-12. The BIG RED BIBLE is an International Children’s Bible translation. One that children can read and understand. I enjoyed the vivid 3-D pictures throughout the Bible. These pictures helped in visualizing Bible stories and gave the reference where they could be found.

There is a Bible dictionary at the end which is useful anytime if looking for meanings of specific words. I also liked the other helps at the end of the Bible including ‘Memory Verses for Life’. I can see this as a valuable tool in reading to children in devotional settings and more. Here’s a Bible that the even the younger age kids will understand right along with everyone else.

The text is larger, which makes it a little easier for even some of the earliest readers to read. This also makes it a ton more fun for kids who can now follow along in their own Bible as people read out loud in theirs. Kids begin to build comfort in reading along in their own Bibles, they will want to keep taking them to church.

This Bible was a good one for our group. The main thing we would have wanted is more of the graphics that are in the Bible already.

Feel free to check out these links to continue to aid you in falling in love with this Bible.

ICB YouTube video:
ICB Link:

Whatever the cost book review

whatever the cost

The Benhams made nationwide headlines after Home and Garden Television (HGTV) canceled the show before its planned premiere in the fall of 2014. Some reports were that HGTV was alerted to a … story by, which looked into the background of the Benham brothers and found them to be ‘anti-gay, anti-choice extremists.'”

David, co-author of the newly-released memoir, “Whatever The Cost,” said he and his brother quickly decided they “needed to hit the issue head on” through sharing their story.

The Benham brothers both attended Liberty University on baseball scholarships. The pair played with several major league organizations before establishing their nationally recognized real estate firm and moving into homes on the same block in Charlotte, N.C.

In their book, the brothers do describe how they would never discriminate against a gay person appearing on their reality show. Yet, they said they refused to bend on their principles in favor of traditional marriage, pro-life causes and other issues.

While working on the book, Scott Lamb, who was the writer who collaborated with the brothers over this book, said he learned the Benhams walked away from a sizable sum of money because they wouldn’t compromise their beliefs.

“In America there is verbal and financial persecution, but recently in Egypt 21 Christians lost their heads,” Lamb said. “Whether we live in Egypt or Nashville, we better have that mindset — that life means nothing and we better be ready to lay down our life.

Whatever the cost!

This was a great book to read for me. I enjoyed it from the moment I picked it up all the way through to the last page of the story. This is not a typical type of book that I would normally have read, but this one had me the whole way. It was such a challenge to read a modern-day David and Goliath type story.

A challenge for sure. Whatever the cost!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Dispatch a great tool for ministry

Dispatch Nov 2015

Allow me to share with you a fantastic tool that comes from INCM called Dispatch.

Dispatch is a curated selection of some of the latest ideas and products for children’s ministry leaders. It comes packed to the rim of the box and makes you feel like it is Christmas all year round.

Here are just a few of the items that came in this last box:
The Gospel Truth about children’s Ministry
7 Family Ministry Essentials
Strong in me CD

and so much more.

What are you waiting for, go now and get your box of goodies.

The 4 hour work week book review

4 hour work week

I cringed at the title of this book, The 4 hour work week, but still went ahead and leafed through it. I actually found myself seeing how some pieces of this book could be applied to my life, and so I decided to go ahead and read it.

Step 1: D is for Definition

In this section Ferriss tells us to do an important task: define what you want. And I agree that most of us live through life not knowing what we want; just following the crowd like a herd of sheep. This section was the motivational, make you feel good section. This wasn’t the how, it was the why.

Step 2: E is for Elimination
Okay, so he basically says to eliminate all the junk in your life. For example: watch less TV, don’t check your e-mail so often, don’t look at your phone a bazillion times a day, don’t surf the web for hours a day, etc. It focuses on some very straightforward techniques for eliminating most of the regular mundane activities that fill our professional lives. Here are seven examples that I liked:
I. Make your to-do list for tomorrow before you finish today.
II. Stop all multitasking immediately.
III. Force yourself to end your day at 4 PM or end your week on Thursday.
IV. Go on a one-week media fast.
V. Check email only twice a day
VI. Never, ever have a meeting without a clear agenda.
VII. Don’t be afraid to hang up a “do not disturb” sign.

Step 3: A is for automation
This is where I began to disconnect with Tim’s method of creating a “4-hour workweek”. He spends a good deal of time talking about having a VA (Virtual Assistant). In my profession of pastoral ministry, this would be a hard sell, so I didn’t spend much time on this.

Step 4: L is for Liberation
Here Tim combines all the parts to show you how to move more of your life to remote type living. I actually believe this is valuable as I have been able to carry out a lot of this myself already.

Here are some last closing key insights I took away:
• “Don’t ever arrive at the office or in front of your computer without a clear list of priorities. You’ll just read unassociated e-mail and scramble your brain for the day.” (This alone has saved me about 35 hours since I finished the book 2 weeks ago.)
• “Being busy is a form of laziness and lazy thinking”
• How to end a meeting on time

My last thought with this book was it does a great job of teaching a person how to self-promote, but it comes at a high cost of teamwork. I hope that one day Tim Ferriss can take a break from perfecting his self to experience the pleasure of cultivating community. And those who pursue all the things in this book will be able to learn the value of as well.

Remote office not required book review


When this book Remote arrived in the mail I was excited to start to read it as I already had respect and enjoyed 37 signals as a company. Now after reading the book allow me to say this book did not add to my respect for a great company.

Let me say that I am one who already enjoys working remotely for my main job of being a Children/Family Life Pastor, where a ton of my volunteers live all over the city and hold several different work schedules so having the ability of working on the go comes in very handy. Also, I get the privilege of working for a completely online business called as a Ministry Coach, and as one of their Kidmin Pros. Seeing that such a large amount of my time is remote, getting the opportunity to read a book titled Remote I was excited. Then soon let down.

Remote is a book that had a ton of potential but unfortunately according to this reader feel short. Through the book I kept feeling like they would start a topic that I wanted them to go deeper on but we never seemed to go there. I know they wanted to make a book that anyone could pick up but that didn’t mean we had to stay at the extreme surface level that the book stayed at.

Basically, if you are looking for a book to show your boss who is very office bound in their thinking and working remotely is a foreign concept, this may be the book for you. If you are wanting anything more, then I would not think this book would be your best choice.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Blogging For Books review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Leadership Handbook Book Review

Maxwell Leadership Hndbk.cover

The book, as its title suggests, The Leadership Handbook. 26 Critical Lessons Every Leader Needs, is broken into 26 “lessons.” These are short chapters that you can breeze through quickly, but try to resist the temptation to do so. What should be the goal is slow down and work methodically through them. Having the knowledge is great, but the application of that knowledge is what shows wisdom (this discipline of slowing down and application is what makes you a better leader). Maxwell suggests that emerging leaders read one chapter each week for 26 weeks, and he suggests experienced leaders to take two weeks per chapter — one week for you and one week to mentor someone else about the lesson.

If there was one big obstacle that kept creeping back in for me on not slowing down with the reading of this book was it had that familiar feel of, “I have read this before” and I was very familiar with the lessons and disciplines that were being taught in this book. Then it came to me, I was very familiar with most of this book already due to reading a earlier book of Maxwell’s titled: Leadership Gold. If you the reader are not familiar with Maxwell’s work, you will find the material in this book helpful. However, if you are familiar with his work, you might be disappointed as I was.

Maxwell remains an author that when he comes out with anything new, I will at least review what it is to be over as I hold out for him to bring some new Leadership truths again some day. He is a great story-teller, user of quotes, and has a writing style that I have enjoyed since I started down my purposeful leadership journey back in the early 90’s.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Raising Kingdom Kids book review

raising kingdom kids

I have had the great privilege of ready a wonderful and challenging book titled: Raising Kingdom Kids by Tony Evans. In this book it is clear that Evans understands that parenting is not easy, although it is rewarding over time, and it does come with its challenges.

No two children are the same even if they are in the same family, therefore, parents must be able to love, nurture, and train each child in the way of the Lord while at the same time helping them grow individually into mature, faithful adults. Often on the journey of parenting, fathers and mothers need encourage and perhaps, some advice on how to raise their children according to the Bible. It is this kind of practical help that Dr. Tony Evans gives in Raising Kingdom Kids.

Tony continues to discuss the biblical roles and responsibilities of parents and how they should not only raise their children to adulthood, but guide them along the way to successfully fulfill God’s plan and call for them.

Outside of this being just an incredible read packed with wonderful challenges, thoughts, and encouragement, one more item I want to make mention of before closing this review off is a not so often view the author takes. Unlike most Christian parenting books, this one is not aimed solely at a two-parent household. In several places, Evans makes a point of including single moms, dads, or even a blended family. I felt this was great due to the rapidly changing family structures. Again it was just another way Tony connects with his readers and allows you to feel he knows where you are, where you can be, and provides the suggested help to get there.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher Tyndale book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising

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