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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?

Delegation is a must in children’s ministry

Children’s ministry expands over so many responsibilities, areas and our roles as Children’s pastors or volunteers are ever-changing and increasing. Because of this movement learning and practicing delegation has never been so important but lived so little.

Delegating effectively is a way to carry out more and help people experience how they’re a vital part of Gods bigger picture. Try these suggestions for helping your delegation go to the next level.

1. Create and keep up a list of responsibilities you can assign to others. Distinguish between those things that only you can do (this is the top 20% that gives you 80% return) and those you can hand off to others (this is the other 80% that can be trained to do by others).

2. Appreciate the skills of those around you. Your teams will most likely have the ability to complete certain jobs better and faster than you. Think in terms of what people excel at and what they like to do. Set them up for success and celebrate their wins.

3. Keep the right focus. Focus on results and give people room to carry out the task in their own way. Appreciate different styles of working as long as the outcome is there. You may discover new methods that work better than what you’ve been doing in the past.

4. Be realistic. Develop realistic expectations on the results. If you are just giving someone a project for the first time they may take longer in doing it. That is alright, give them another assignment, then another and the more you give them the better and more efficient they will become.

These are only a few ideas to get you ready to become great in delegating. Check back for suggestions on how to communicate in delegating, getting results and more.

Give the vision then get out of the way for implementation

I have always enjoyed observing and studying great leaders. One consistent observation that I have used in my own leadership is recognizing how leaders get excited about faith-stretching, bigger-than-life, assignments. That’s the kind of vision they believe in and follow. Long “To Do” lists often get in the way of that kind of fun for leaders. Visions excite them, specific details on the “How to complete them” do not.

Over the years I have learned that if you want to create a successful ministry, you must recruit solid leaders, hand them the big vision, then empower them to choose how they will accomplish that vision. They will still need your help along the way. They will need your continued assistance to develop structure, discipline, and follow through. However, that is totally different than handing leaders a set of tasks as “To Do’s” coming from you.

My early elementary coordinator is a prime example of a leader. I keep her connected to the vision of the house and she devises the plan to get it accomplished. I keep her in the know of “why” we do what we do and she runs with the “how” we will get it done. I give her the bottom line “Rules” and she creates the “Guidelines” for success.

I wanted to blog about this for a variety of reasons among which was my desire to honor Duane more than I could in our weekly bulletin. I also wanted to challenge you, to allow those you have recruited the freedom to do what you have asked of them. Often this can be accomplished by simply getting out of the way. If you don’t, you run the risk of losing the leaders you have.

Extracting Leadership Gold

Developing your top 10% of your team (you know the ones I am talking about already that always seem to be the armor bearers for you, the ones getting the results and helping the rest of team members in making forward progress, encouraging everyone and finding 3 solutions to every potential obstacle). Developing this team is not always done the same way as developing other parts of your team. I don’t want to spend a ton of time in this post focusing on all the reasons and factors that make the 10% your top results people. Instead I am just recognizing that we may have this kind of group and suggesting how to help bring the best out from them.

1. Start first with give them trust: Give them a lot of trust, let them see that you believe in them, don’t micromanage any project for them. Let them help you develop the large picture and claim some part of it and l then let them know that you are there and just periodically check in to show you are there, otherwise stay out of the way and see what they can produce.

2. Delegate to them: Once you’ve identified that they are committed as you think they are, delegate some task that has more importance than just everyday type task. Let them run with a task that may take a couple weeks or a month or so but remember that you still maintain responsibility for it, but you are giving them the reins to let them run with it. Giving them empowerment. Make sure you are delegating and not dumping on them. Delegating is giving out some responsibilities but still staying plugged in and following up etc. where as dumping is giving those same responsibilities out and cutting the strings.

3. Continually raise your bar of expectations and responsibilities. As their successful, keep adding slowly, this is key or you could push them right out of their success area. I have seen numerous times when people get promoted because the do great and then in the next spot they fail because their skill set is not what the new area needs. Keep them in their success areas. Keep them hungry and reward their efforts whenever possible. Challenging them will get them to push harder and extract their leadership gold by proper pressure. In the process it will open doors for a great mentoring relationship to be built.

4. Point them out: Let everyone else see and know that what they stand for is what you are looking for. Let them be a role model and/or mentor of other team members. They are not your favorites; but acknowledge their abilities to step-up and go above their ministry description.

This is not an exhaustive list, I know there are those of you who have things to add to this list. So, please do.

4-D solution

Beginning this post allow me to say up front that I am in no means the originator of this and actually to be truthful I am not even sure when the first time was that I learned process. So, as it was free for me to learn, I offer it to you as well.

I see people struggle all the time trying to handle a large load of activities and projects. As they try to juggle all of these activities they are trying to just survive and trying to figure out a new system that will help. This is what I desire to offer you today, another possible system that is tried and true according to me. I work this system myself and believe you too can find it valuable if you will work it faithfully. So lets begin with this 4-D solution.

1. Dump It. Learn to say no. Pretty simple but it seems that those who work with Kids have a great hardship that comes upon them when they think of saying no. Dump It.

2. Delegate It. These are projects and items that need to be done, just maybe not by you. Hand them to someone else and don’t walk under guilt for doing this. Always ask yourself, “Who should do this?” When you figure it out then allow them to do it. If no one else comes to your mind who could not do it at least 75% as well as you, then it may be for you. But be careful to not think too highly of yourself and skill levels. So, delegate it out.

3. Defer it. These are issues you do not need to work on, at least not immediately. They can be deferred. Schedule a future time to handle these types of things.

4. Do it. Important projects that need your attention right away. Move ahead with these items, don’t make excuses if you have boiled a task down to this level.

So there you go a 4-D Solution for tackling your heavy load.

Not enough time in the day. Really?

During my past long blogging sabbatical I had a great time of focusing again. One more area that God was dealing with me in was my feelings of sometimes getting over whelmed or the feeling of confusion as to what I should be doing, and I am not talking about long range, but daily, what should I be doing.  I needed to put together a strategic/tactical plan to success for myself. It was looking at these two words that helped me to get back to proper focus again.

The word “strategic” deals with “why” issues, whereas the word “tactical” deals with “how.” So when you’re strategic “why” become muddled, your tactical “how” solutions diminish. When you’re strategic “why” issues are settled, the tactical “how” solutions become obvious. So here is my personal conclusion that I had to come to, the degree of clarity you have about your strategic beliefs enables you to focus and execute.

Achieving clarity about what you really want is the solution because knowing what you want will help settle and establish the strategic issues you face. If you are not clear about what you really want, however, your belief in your effort will not be powerful or compelling enough to sustain your efforts. Clarity about what you want is actually what empowers your ability to believe in what you are doing, because your belief in what you are doing is the engine of the actions you take.

Something that has  begun to be noticeable to me and has been for a while is simply that the speed of light creates a mixed bag of beliefs that combine to produce a list of specific felt needs. Felt needs are the emotions we feel as a result of unresolved questions and challenges. I’m sure that there are several different felt needs but there is one for sure I want to talk briefly about here. This one can be traced back to a lack of clarity and is by far the one I hear the most by my fellow friends who have maybe over time lost the clarity they may have heled at one time.

Ready for it? Here it is, ask yourself if you have ever said this one…

There doesn’t seem to be enough time to do all that I have to do. Anything worth doing should be done–period!

I have seen time and time again, and have coached several people in time management,  some with calendars so packed it would make anybody’s head spin but yet for them they get it all done and within a reasonable and pre-determined time. Then in another season of life I have seen those same people take on the same load but a very different result as they have truly created a legitimate feeling of not having enough time, even though the real  problem was not a time problem, it is often a clarity issue.

When you lack clarity about what you really want, or the results that should really be accomplished, or whatever you lack clarity about, you will find yourself being pushed toward living in problems. When you have clarity about things, you will be pulled toward living in solutions. And living in solutions you become more effective in all you do.

So have you felt there is not enough time in a day? Take a big step back and ask yourself, Do you have clarity in all that you are doing? Sometimes you will be able to discover where you may have lost some clarity along the way and moved toward problems instead of solutions.

Lessons on focus

It has been a long time since I last posted, but it has been incredibly busy for me. During this time of busyness and not posting to this site I’ve had my mind just filled with tons of ideas, stories, future blog post, and a ton more. To start posting from this long blogging sabbatical that I’ve been on I want to begin with the topic of focus.

I ran across a quote recently by Charles Dickens which said “I never could have done without the habits of punctuality, order and diligence… the determination to concentrate myself on one subject at a time.”  This quotation came at a good time for me to discover.

Here is what I mean, I’m at the beginning of starting a new ministry at a new church in a new state and with tons of ideas running around the top of my head and all of the lessons that I’m trying to learn all at one time and all the new things that were trying to start and revitalize or strengthen, an old lesson of focus has become apparent to me again. Several of you may be able to identify with this either from when you started at a new church, new job, new ministry, and the list can go on, but in situations like these we all tend to wear several hats especially in the first year, and we put in long days and nights, with not much time for relaxing. It’s such an incredible exciting time, meeting new team members and  creating and developing new ideas.

Then as the foundation begins to be built, people and systems are put in place to create stability, we tend to move from creating all the new stuff and become more involved in a day to day administrative type of flow. Paper work increases along with e-mail loads about to hit the edge of being out of control and what started out as an exciting new adventure quickly becomes a daily routine, with much more time spent putting out fires, handling people problems, and much more.

Now you may find yourself on the front lines of productivity versus non-productivity. With all of this activity going on or the appearance that often times you are the only one who can solve the situations, or train the people is even more important that you stay focused so that you can keep on the productivity side of what God has entrusted to you. You must invest most of your time every week doing what you do best, and let others do what they do best. This is the lesson of focus.

So today take a step back and look at everything that you have on your plate and ask yourself, what is here that I must truly do? And then after you have asked yourself that, go and ask a couple close friends to help you answer that same question. Because if you are like most who start new ministries or have the entrepreneurial spirit, you may find that you have a tendency to be a controller, or overestimate your importance. You may find it difficult to let go, to allow other people to carry the load. You are emotionally attached to the new ministries, systems, processes,  and ideas that you have weaned and nurtured from the start. You can think you’re the only one who can understand every detail and in your mind nobody else can do these important everyday task as well as you can.

So take this lesson on focus and truly focus.  There may be bigger deals, new mountains, and more destinations that maybe you need to be taking. But you can not be all or go everywhere God wants you to go for Him if you are not focused and giveaway what others should be doing so that you can do what only you can do.

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