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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?

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.

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.

Get the LEAD out – Strategic Execution

planning

When I was younger I would always hear from my parents, “Todd you better get the lead out!” I always wondered what that really meant.

According to the Free Dictionary it means: “get the lead out and shake the lead out
Inf. to hurry; to move faster. (This originally refers to getting lead weights (used in exercise) off so you can move faster.)”

Here is a quick formula to “Get the lead out” with your execution plan.

L=Leverage. Do you have the right people in the driver seats to carry out your strategic priorities?

E-Enviroment. Have you created the right atmosphere and culture that will allow your people the ability to support your priorities?

A=Alignement. Do each of your team members agendas move them toward your ministries final goals?

D-Drive. Does your team have the ability to quickly move once the first 3 pieces of this formula are in place?

In closing, maybe you answered no to some of the above formula, what then?

Well, if you said no to the Leverage piece then you will need to work on your Talent/Resource side.

If you said no to Environment, then you have a Cultural/Engagement issue.

If no to Alignment, then work on your Communication/Productivity.

Lastly if no to Drive, then your Speed/Agility.

So, want to succeed, Then Get the lead out.

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.

Potential time wasters in my children’s ministry

unproductive

I love what I get to do every day as a children’s pastor. I often even feel that I need to pinch myself because of the great honor of what I get to do. With this privilege and honor comes great responsibility as well. Because of this great responsibility I need to always check my productivity and not my busyness.

Here are some potential time wasters that will slow me down from being as productive as i can be in the children’s ministry that I get the privilege of being over. Let’s see if you may see some that you struggle with if not kept in check.

1. Email. I will start with this as it can be a never-ending battle. The bings, and bells, and dings and notifications that can come from the emails coming in that will always distract you from what you should be doing.

To help with this, turn all your notifications off and check your emails at predetermined times. I check mine at 9 and 3. It took me some getting use to realize that I really am not as important as I may have thought and my emails can wait until 9 and 3.

2. Internet searching. Here is an area that I can end up losing track of time as I link surf (clicking from one link to another, to another etc). No one ever link surfs to waste time we all do it for the purpose of research or productivity but let’s be honest, more often than not it ends up being a waste of time.

To help with this, set a timer on your phone, use an egg timer, an alarm clock etc for a pre-determined time and once it goes off, you have to stop. I schedule in my week 1 hour of link surfing. During this time it is always relaxing but at the end I always feel good because I stuck to my one hour and have no regrets.

3. Scheduling meetings. I can spend just as much time trying to arrange a meeting with a group of people as I sound in the meeting. This can end up being very discouraging.

To help with this, I first ask myself is this meeting even necessary? Then if determined that the meeting is necessary I go onto asking myself do I really need to meet with all of these people? Lastly, if the meeting is necessary and I have come up with a list of people I must have in the meeting I ask is there another way to keep everyone updated without everyone being physically present? This can be done by using tools like Skype, LiveMinutes, Google Hangouts etc.

There you go, just 3 potential time wasters but these 3 will rack up the time being wasted and keep me from being as productive as I could be in my children’s ministry.

What are your time wasters?

Do you struggle with these as well? If so how do you overcome them?

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?

Productivity tools, systems and processes

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“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.”-–Paul J. Meyer.

I heard this statement that comes from the Economic Policy Institute.

Since the early 1970s, productivity (the amount of output per hour worked) has risen in America. Between 1973 and 2011, productivity of the American worker has grown 80 percent. Why? My opinion, because we’re finding new tools and techniques to increase our focus and efficiency.

Below are some ideas and tools I have discovered over time that people I would say are productive have repeatedly talked about using. I believe I can learn a lot form people and their habits, tools they choose to use, their processes and the reason why they do and use what they do. So in the following I have come to use many of the same and investigating using some others. Some I have substitutions for like the running to clear my mind such as, I mow the yard.

Police Your Own Internet Habits.
Theres a tool called StayFocusd to keep track of how much time you spend on various sites. I have a tendency to begin researching something online for a sermon I am preparing with the very best of intentions and then get lost viewing irrelevant content and wasting way too much time. To limit this, I turn on the browser extension to Chrome of StayFocusd where I keep up a list of sites I can get lost on for hours–YouTube, Ted Talks and Facebook are mine. StayFocusd alerts me after a pre-determined time that I have set up has passed and then blocks the offending sites to help me resist temptation and stay focused on the task at hand. Another tool I will mention before leaving this part is RescueTime which I have a posted previously about. This is a tool worth checking out as well.

Clear Your Mind, Define Your Focus
Wendy Lea, CEO of Get Satisfaction and principal at The Chatham Group, shared two tips that keep her focused, energized, effective and productive both personally and professionally. “There are two things I do to get the energy, capacity and focus I need to not only be efficient, but effective. Personally, I take 15 minutes every morning for contemplation and to empty my mind. I take a bag full of thoughts I need cleared and each morning I pick one out, read it, and send it down the river near my house. Watching the thought float away really helps clear my mind, reorient things and increase my focus for the rest of the day,” said Lea, who successfully juggles several roles across various companies including CEO, investor, advisor, mentor and principal.

“Professionally,” Lea added, “I send an email to my team each Monday morning with the top five things I will be focused on for the week. This really keeps me on track and gives me the focus I need. These two things set the pace for me every day, both in my personal and professional life.”

Cut Back On Meetings
Randy Komisar, a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers (KPCB), said he keeps productive by being diligent about meetings–sticking to the allotted time and only scheduling in-person meetings when it’s absolutely necessary. “I leave meetings at their allotted end time regardless of whether they are finished,” said Komisar, who authored the book, Getting to Plan B: Breaking Through to a Better Business Model. “I do not reschedule an appointment for a more important one unless it is an emergency. If an email will do, I don’t make a call; if a call will do, I don’t have a meeting; if a 30-minute meeting is enough, I don’t schedule an hour.”

All About Evernote
Dylan Tweney, the executive editor at VentureBeat, said Evernote, the popular note-taking and archiving service, is his go-to productivity tool. “I use Evernote to collect everything I might need to save for later, with the exception of emails–Gmail is fine for that. I store all of my important documents–from notes to interviews–in Evernote. I also use Evernote tags as a kind of to-do list: I have a set of tags that I can use to rank things that need to happen immediately or that I’m waiting for someone else to finish: (“1-next,” “2-soon,” “3-later,” “4-someday,” and “5-waiting”). When I get an email that I need to act on but can’t respond to immediately, I send it to my private Evernote address and then rank it,” said Tweney. “Finally, I use Instapaper liberally to save articles that I run across during the day, but don’t have time to read during the busy hours. It sends stories to my Kindle automatically, so I always have something interesting to read on the train ride home or in the evening. That helps keep me focused on work, even when people are sharing fascinating things on Twitter and Facebook all day.”

Get Tunnel Vision
Kevin O’Connor, the serial entrepreneur who founded both DoubleClick and more recently FindTheBest, a data-driven comparison engine, said he makes an effort to focus on only the top few things that really are going to move the needle. “Most people tend to focus on the 100 things they should do, which can be overwhelming and result in the failure to actually accomplishing anything of importance. I try to focus on the three to five things I absolutely have to do. I don’t get distracted by those ninety-seven other unimportant things that don’t ultimately give to my success or the success of my company.”

Get Physical
Patrick Dolan, the EVP and COO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), said what keeps him productive, focused and energized is going for runs in the morning. “I love to run in the morning before I get into work. Running clears my mind, gets the blood flowing and ultimately makes me much more focused and productive. During my morning runs, I try to come up with solutions to any unresolved problems at work, brainstorm new ideas, and really prioritize my work in terms of the top things I want to carry out that day. By the time I get into work, I already have a set of focused priorities, and I also have the energy to make them happen.”

Put Email In Its Place
Anne-Marie Slaugher, a professor of politics and international relations at Princeton University and author of the popular article published last year in The Atlantic, “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All,” said basing your work day around the never-ending flow of incoming emails is a huge productivity drain. “My principal productivity tip is that if you are caught up on your email, your priorities are in the wrong place. An extra of hour of email will do very little in the long run, but that hour could be spent reading to your kids before bed, cooking a meal, or taking a walk and clearing your head–all far better choices,” said Slaughter, who previously served as Director of Policy Planning for the U.S. State Department. “More generally, email puts you in response mode, where you are doing what other people want you to do, and not send mode, where you are deciding what you want to do and taking action.”

Task Management obstacles and solutions

young man to hold up clock with hand

I spend every month with my coaching protegés working on their task management skills. It is a firm belief of mine that those of us in children’s ministries need to be some of the best task managers around. Name any other ministry in the church that has to oversee one of the largest if not the largest volunteer base, run our own worship, reach so many generations of people including their parents and grandparents (because as we all know with kids every family member wants to know what is going on). We also need to run training for more diverse groups, outreach, events, and the list just goes on and on. With all of this along with all the more, we need to become great in task management.

I have complied a list of potential obstacles that could hinder your task management.

– Data overload: Constant collection of emails, text messages, IMs and news pouring into your inbox. When you have a new notification, do you automatically STOP what you are doing, click, read, close? This takes up time, removes your focus and interrupts your work flow.

– Lack of focus: jumping around between tasks decreases productivity and output. Multi-tasking is not what it’s cracked up to be. Stick with one task, finish it and move on.

– Procrastination: when you consistently put off tasks, you end up in a time crunch and can miss deadlines or leave things undone.

– Distractions: take you away from the task, cuts into your time, diminishes focus. Sometimes it is good to be unavailable in this incredibly ever-increasing world of connectedness.

– Disorganization: misplace, misplaced file or lose things and you must waste time searching. I cover this in-depth through coaching about gathering Points.

– Being a digital hoarder: when your inbox and folders are overstuffed, you spend more time searching for documents and emails. This inefficiency wastes your time

“You can manage information and the interruptions, because the problem really doesn’t lie in the amount of information and interruptions. The problem lies with our methods of processing that information and handling the interruptions.”

Some suggestions to get organized.

– Chunk your daily schedule with like-minded task.

– Schedule checking emails at specific times and stick to it. It’s amazing how many people can actually wait to get a response from you over their email sent to you.

– Use your calendar to schedule appointments and to-do’s.

– Use the S.M.A.R.T.E.R. system.

– Keep workplace organize and clear working area at the end of the day.

– Practice the art of delegation.

– Turn off the television

Outside of these quick task management ideas, I would suggest getting a coach who can help develop these concepts more with you.

Loaded iPad mini with Scanner Pro for more Productivity

scanner-pro

I am using a new tool with my iPad mini that helps in making my iPad more productive all the time. It is Scanner Pro.

Some of Scanner Pro’s Powerful Features:

* Multi-page/Multi-format – It is simple to scan multi-page documents. It doesn’t matter if they are portrait or landscape, and the app makes it easy to rearrange pages within the document.

* PDF – Share scanned docs in standard PDF format or JPG if you prefer images.

* Folders – You can create document folders to keep your document library neat and organized. I keep different areas for work, and home.

* iPhone and iPad – Scanner Pro is a universal app that works on both iPad and iPhone. (Meaning you only have to buy it once.)

* Share Almost Anywhere – Once you scan your documents, you can share or save them in many services including Dropbox, Email, Google Drive, or Evernote.

* Syncs Via iCloud – Scanner Pro syncs between your devices via iCloud. So, if you scan a document with your iPad and later want to use if from your iPhone, it is already there.

So next time you need to turn that receipt in that you have in your billfold for reimbursement or you will miss out on getting paid, or maybe, you’re in a meeting and need to scan and send some documents to your office, or you are trying to capture a business card, never fear just go ahead and open up Scanner Pro and get the job done. I forgot to mention, you can also set it for automatic border detection. Again, this will save you more time as you no longer have to crop the photo yourself, Scanner Pro will get the job done for you.

To see how quick and easy it is to use Scanner Pro with your iPad, watch this short video:

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