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4 tools we use for better team communication.

We value communication with our teams. Ever since moving into more of an Executive Pastor role at my church, one thing I have noticed is how well all of my 25+ years as a children’s pastor, youth pastor, and even family pastor have really equipped me for success in this ministry role. Through all of these roles mentioned and now in my newer role communicating with a diverse group of people who want different types of info at different times is still one thing in common.

Here are 4 tools I have come to love because they aid in great communication.

1. Trello.
Here is a tool that I use to track projects of individuals to teams. We use it to keep their wish list ideas in, to tracking their top 2 projects they are working on for the week that keeps the ball moving down the field to accomplish the bigger mission and vision of our church. We will use it at budget times as well to go back and see exactly how we did spend money and look for patterns. One last way that I will mention here, even though we have an abundant amount more we could list would be, we use it for weekly review.

2. Slack.
Instead of texting, we have moved to using slack. This has a much more collaborate feel and function that fits our church. Easier to track documents being shared, I can monitor usage to see how we are using this tool, you can shut off notices when you don’t want to be disturbed, and again many other ways.

3. Dropbox.
All finished projects go here. Every year we do an Easter event of some type. So as planning comes up for Easter we will go into our shared Easter folder and there we will see all collected files, resources, budgets, vendors used along with their contact info, forms etc there for convenient use in guiding us toward creating the new Easter event.

4. Evernote.
The bottom line on this tool, as it can be used in so many ways but the bottom line way we use it as a team is for our electronic brains. A file cabinet that can snatch things from the web with a web clipper for your browser extension, to an email given to you from Evernote that you can send things to through email. With everyone using this tool sharing a folder is easy as well.

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.

Starting new Family Life Pastor position finding Break-even Point


For those who may not know or who have not been following me long, you need to know I have had the opportunity to start a new position in Des Moines, Iowa at First Church of the Open Bible. I thought as long as I am starting a new position I might as well journal the journey.

There are a ton of great books out there on every topic but not many if any on the practical how to’s of when starting new at a medium size church, in another state and for me even a different denomination as i am going from Assembly of God to Open Bible.

So let’s begin!

There is such a thing as what I would call a “Break even point”. This is a point when new leaders have contributed as much value to the new ministry and church as they have consumed from it. Being a consumer when you first start is natural seeing that this is what many call the “Honey moon” time as well. During this time everyone is your friend, helping you in every way, you can purchase items more frequently, you can get information, etc.. The goal even as nice as this Honey moon period may be is to not camp here. Gather and move on.

When 210 CEO’s were asked for their best estimates of the time it takes a typical midlevel manager in their organizations to reach the “Break even” point, the average of their responses was 6.2 months. With this being said, it should be our goal to accelerate the time spent here to get out earlier than most. Doing so will help us create value sooner and that will lead to stronger influence into the lives of those we lead.

There are 2 types of people that you want to secure for yourself pretty quickly and they are:

1. Environmental atmosphere
2. Personal

Real quick, Environmental atmosphere people are those who can help give you the pulse of the environment in which you are working. These are the people that you want to hear from when you get ready to make your changes.

Then the personal advisers will help you keep perspective in times of stress. They will keep you accountable to your reasons of “why” you are doing this or that. They will serve behind the scenes and stay removed from the mechanics of your ministry due to their main ministry is your personal well being.

Have fun gathering these 2 types of people. Do this before you move much into changing anything. These 2 types will help you get to your break even point faster.

Score BIG with parents. It’s really not as hard as many make it out to be.


Whenever you are trying to make improvements to anything, it is always wise to start with what needs improving. You find this out by asking questions, by discovering what people want, need, desire. Everyone tends to take their own filter into situations and then judge everything according to their filter.

Perception is Reality!!!

In Family ministries, we must find out peoples perceptions in order to change or improve their reality. Over the many, many years I have been involved in children or family ministry one consistent perception keeps coming up – The parents feel they are not in the know of what is going on with their child.

With each ministry I talk with they mostly feel all the information for events would be in the bulletin, on the quarterly calendar, on the website, and sent home on flyers. But with all of these outlets, parents still managed to miss what was going on in their children’s ministry and the details about events.

The biggest disappointment is that perception is reality. So, if it was perceived that the information was unclear, then it was.

How families perceive your organizational and communication skills is the true test of how you are truly communicating. Communication is leaving from one person and being received and understood from another person. Talking is simply just that, communicating to only yourself because it is not being received by anything or anyone else.

Ideas to try in communicating.

Email Parents Once A Week or put same info out in paper form. Include some of these each time:

* Share the vision and purpose of your ministry. This needs repeating several times.

* Encourage parents with ideas and resources on how to love their kids.

* Encourage parents to pray for ministry and provide specifics.

* Empower parents to take away excuses for their kids to miss church.

* Share stories of how God is at work in our ministry.

* Communicate upcoming lessons for both follow-up and open dialogue.

* Highlight upcoming events and communicate details.

* Provide an easy way for parents to get a hold of me.

Ideas to try to gauge if your communication is being received.

* Hold contest that are announced in your newsletters or email etc. Tell families that the first X amount of families that email you back with the word that is the 4 word in a specific section of your newsletter will get a prize.

* Survey families as they pick up or drop off their kids. Ask a couple targeted question about their opinion on the usefulness and helpfulness of your communication pieces. Don’t wear your thin skin on these days.

* Announce a quarterly parents pizza night and have parents respond back to RSVP with how they heard about the Pizza night.

Have fun with this but always build in evaluation. If you do this you will Score BIG with your families.

AHA review coming soon.

Aha book cover

I have received this book from David C. Cook, AHA by Kyle Idleman, that I am so excited to read and do a blog post over.

Here is just a snippet that I read from Kyle and was only a few pages into the book. Enjoy.

“I’ve discovered that what drives travelers to the distant country is that they are running away from a god that doesn’t exist. For one reason or another, their perception of God doesn’t match up with reality. They are rejecting a god they created rather than the true God who created them.”

This is feeling like it is going to be a good book. Stay tuned.

15 Minutes for a more effective children’s ministry


I think all too often we children’s pastors want a silver bullet to change our children’s ministries. We want to be able to read some book, hear some podcast, network with just the right person to hear our answer in what to do to make our children”s ministry successful. That is the million dollar question.

I have a suggestion to help get this done that requires 15 minute installments whenever you can. Yes just 15 minutes.

Stop reading this and go and make for yourself a list of let’s say 50-60 items that if you end having to wait for any reason you could work on these items. So next time you are between appointments, or your appointment ends early, or you can’t sleep at night or you get up a little earlier than normal or anytime at all that you have that extra 15 minutes, you pull this list out and pick from it an item to work on.

Over time, these moments of 15 minutes of what would have been wasted time begins to build momentum and items begin to get accomplished!

Congratulations, you are making your children’s ministry more successful!

What will be some of the items you have put on your 15 minute list?

When it is time to unplug


I am writing this post due to a question that was posted on where Scott asked: “I am just exhausted. How do you all keep up with the information, blogs, tweets, Facebook, etc. and all the information that is out there.” Great question, so allow me to ask as well, How are you controlling the access to your mind? Is it intentional, thoughtful, beneficial? Maybe one of these suggestions below will be beneficial.

1. Take control of your attention span.

No longer is it the billboards, TV, radio and print advertising that zaps your attention. These types of distractions are decades or more old and you have developed some filters to help control your attention with these. The more illusive ones that we just have not acknowledged or given their due credit for being attention vampires are on our smartphones, tablets and computer screens.

Every app, game, search engine and access point is now an attention zapper, energy sucker. You think your productivity is dependent upon your ability to consume it all.

Time to acknowledge that anything and everything is findable in this world so you really wont miss anything by keeping up with all the blogs, apps, technology, who is saying what or what ministry is doing what. Accept that you don’t have to be plugged in all the time.

2. Guard your fortress.

Think of your mind as a bank–the place you store such valuable items as thoughts, dreams, skills and experience. So naturally, you need to protect it. Don’t leave your instant messaging on, turn those alerts off from Facebook, twitter, while you are participating in a meeting or creating a strategy. It’s OK to shut down your phone during times of high productivity that need your full attention.

3. Give yourself permission to have a digital escape.

OK, digital addict: Now that you’ve taken back control from the attention vampires, you can live a life of full control and focus. But what about all the fun? The ESPN scores, the Facebook status updates, the Words with Friends games?

Give yourself permission to take breaks to enjoy a digital escape. Apply the same level of focus to your digital escape: Close your email, stop your projects, shut your door and open your favorite game, social network or Instagram and work on some photos.

“There is a time for everything, and everything on earth has its special season.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

Tuesday’s book is 5 Levels of Leadership


I had finished another book by John Maxwell titled: 5 Levels of Leadership. I have found this book as with all of John Maxwells book very good. And as always when I am done with a book I ask myself how can this help me in being a better children’s Pastor?

Here is a brief overview of the book first. The 5 Levels that John talks about in the book are:

Level 1-Position. Anyone can be appointed a position but does not make them a leader.

Level 2 -Permission. People follow because they want to. You have developed trust.

Level 3 – Production. Here is where people will follow because of what you have done for the organization.

Level 4- People development. Here the leader becomes known to not just get things done but they invest in others and help them develop.

Level 5- Pinnacle. This is a level that only naturally gifted leaders make it to. Here people follow because of who the leader is and what they represent.

As I was rolling these levels over and asking myself how can this help me become a better children’s pastor I had a few thoughts.

In children’s ministry we lead a variety of people and usually a lot of them ranging from the kids in our ministries to the parents and even grandparents of each child. We have the opportunity to influence each one but our influence will shorten out if we are not working on our leadership. Each one of these levels are built upon the other.

The higher you go the more time and commitment it takes to advance into a new level. Because of the time needed it will create a change in how we must spend our time. When days were once filled with hanging with kids and having super soaker wars, we will find that often those times are replaced with us training teams to hang with the kids and have the super soaker wars while we work on leading the volunteers and investing in the parents for example. But never fear, there should always be some time still scheduled for that occasional super soaker war that you could show up in.

Each new level of growth will require new skills to be learned. My team building building skills that I had to learn when my team was a handful of people as compared to when my teams became a few hundred are completely different.

So there are a few things that I was able to take from this book and incorporate into my ministry to the kids, their families, and my volunteers. I do recommend this book to anyone who is wanting to go to another level in their leadership.

Ways to improve productivity part 1

This blog has always been intended to “Equip and Inspire World Changers on their leadership journey”. Part of equipping world changers is to provide more proven ways to be a better task manager. This is what I am going to do again. Here are a few things that I use to help me stay as productive as I can be.

1. Use voice mail to increase efficiency. If you need uninterrupted time to finish an important project, voice mail allows you to identify who’s calling and temporarily screen out less urgent calls. If you’re in a hurry, leaving a voice mail message will let you avoid lengthy conversations punctuated by the usual social niceties.

2. Handle each piece of paper that crosses your desk only ONCE using the “6 D” System:
* Discard (toss)
* Delegate (route to someone else)
* Do (if you can complete it in three minutes or less)
* Date (put in your tickler file for future action)
* Drawer (project or reference files)
* Deter (get off the distribution list)

3. To avoid getting into a long, drawn-out conversation with Mr. Difficult or Ms. Chatty, call them during lunch. Chances are, they will be out, and you can leave a short voice mail message. Or call at the end of the day, when you know people are trying to get home and will be less likely to talk incessantly.

4. If you suspect you’re not using your time as efficiently as possible, use a Focus Journal (time log) to keep track of HOW you spend your day. Write down what you’re doing throughout the day and how long it takes— you may find that you’re wasting time in surprising ways.

5. Pay attention to your peak energy times. Force yourself to “buckle down” and do your work during this time; we are usually “up” and enjoy socializing and wasting time instead.

What other ones would you add?

Be a Lie Spotter

Truly enjoyed this video and found some great truths and value from it. I know it goes a few minutes but very much worth the time.

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