Browse Tag

Leadership

Eskimos and Sled Dogs

I love the story of the Eskimo who use to pit his lead sled dogs against one another in weight pulling contest. The old Eskimo had one black dog and one white spotted dog, and they seemed to out pull each other on a regular basis. Amazingly the old Eskimo always placed his bet on the winning dog. Long after the two dogs were retired, one of the villagers asked how he always knew which one of the two evenly matched dogs would win in a given contest. How did he know which one to bet on? “It’s easy,” the old Eskimo would say. “I bet on the one that I’d been feeding all week.”

The Bible tells us we ought to dwell on things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8).

What dogs are you feeding?

Want to be CLEAR, then ACT.

A leader must take action—action leads to impact. But actions also possess a separate, equally powerful quality. Actions are unambiguous. If you, the leader, can highlight a few carefully selected actions, then your followers will no longer have to infer the future from theoretical pronouncements about “core values” or your “mission statement.” They will simply look to see what actions you take and put their confidence in these. But be aware that people respond best to two types of action: symbolic action and systemic action.

Symbolic action is just that—a representation of what the future can look like. Symbolic action grabs their attention; it gives people something new and vivid on which to focus. When Rudy Giuliani was elected mayor of New York, he decided to get rid of squeegee men—street people who demanded payment for cleaning windshields. His action was heavily symbolic: It didn’t change New Yorkers’ day-to-day lives all that much, but it was a powerful demonstration of what Giuliani meant when he talked about a better quality of life.

Giuliani also instituted a twice-weekly meeting in which more than 100 senior police officers would gather to explain the city’s daily crime data and defend their response to it. Giuliani declared that these meetings encouraged accountability and transparency. But the meetings’ real power was that they disrupted routines. For a leader, it’s important to disrupt routines. Systemic action changes behavior. It makes people realize that the world is going to be different because they’re doing different things. The future becomes clearer, and out of that clarity comes confidence.

These things I have learned, and when going back through re-reading about Giuliani time in office, they have been confirmed again. So the bottom line is this:

Effective leaders don’t have to be passionate or charming or brilliant (although having any of these attributes will certainly help). What they must be is clearclarity is the essence of great leadership. Show people clearly how they should seek to serve, show people where their core strength lies, show them which score they should focus on and which actions they must take, and they will reward you the leader by working their hearts out to make a better future come true.

New Wine, New Skins – Kidology Coaching

Change, it is happening everywhere and at all times. But there are really 2 kinds of change that I am talking about in this post and many of us do not object to one of these types of change which we will call: Continuous Change. Most of us do not mind this type type of change because this type of change develops out of what has gone before and therefore can be expected, anticipated, and managed. This type of change involves improvements on what is already taking place and can be managed with existing skills and expertise already developed.

Discontinuous change is one that is disruptive and unanticipated. This kind of change creates situations that challenge our assumptions. The skills we have already learned are rendered obsolete. In change like this: working harder with one’s habitual skills and ways of working does not address the challenges being faced; an unpredictable environment means new skills are needed; and lastly, there is no getting back to what was once considered “normal”.

There are definitely times that we can see clearly when these two types of changes have taken place. For the first type an example of Continuous Change could be raising children. Here we have decades of great resources created and at our disposal. There are definite patterns that children go through that we can learn from and maybe just need to make some adaptations within a given framework.

Then there is the Discontinuous Change that transforms a culture forever. Look at the printing press, computer, internet, the iPhone and many more. Once these changes or items were created it changed our lives and our world in a way that there was no turning back to the familiar.

I recently was reminded of a great commercial through a book that I was reading, and it was a commercial from IBM that demonstrates what discontinuous change is really like. It wet something like this:

A team of people where starting up a business after working hard to develop an online marketing strategy gather around a computer as their product goes online. They look hopefully and expectantly for the first internet sale. When one comes through, they nervously look at each other, relieved that something was happening. Then 10 more sales come through, excitement runs through the anxious room. Then, suddenly, a hundred orders show up. The team is cheering and giving high five’s because all their hard work has paid off. Then as they look at the screen beyond belief it doesn’t stop at 100, suddenly its thousands and then millions and it just keeps going up. It brings everyone to a place that they realize the organization has moved to a level of complexity that is beyond the teams skills and ability to address.

We tend to be in a time of change that many pastors are just like that team; they are looking at each other realizing that the church has changed in a way that their presently learned skills are no longer as effective. Not all is lost, because God is still on the throne and willing to continue to help us.

Hope is still alive for us all because we serve the One who wrote about “new wine in new wine skins”. It is these new wine and new skins that makes Kidology Coaching so valuable. Numerous Kidology Coaching Students are weekly

LEARNING
…insights into developing their own administrative skills:

* Helping organize your children’s ministry
* Developing your vision and goals for reaching kids
* Insights into your spiritual gifts
* Guidance and help with your Godly disciplines
* Exposure to various venues for children’s ministry
* Marketing your children’s ministry
* Recommending books and articles to read and study
* Sample administrative forms and procedures
* Leadership-training procedures
* Task management

GETTING
…help in presenting a clear Gospel message to children:

* Learning different approaches used to present the Gospel to kids
* Developing Bible messages for kids
* Discipline of giving salvation invitations to children
* Studying the Bible texts about children

DISCOVERING
…creative use of evangelistic methods, technology and gadgets:

* Learning a variety of evangelistic methods for children
* Exposure to collaborating tools, web based tools, gadgets & more oftentimes free
* Teaching how to use object lessons and gospel magic
* Learning insights into today’s “Child culture”
* Help with programming your evangelistic ministry

Clarity is a must

How often do we think that as we communicate with others that what we are thinking and saying is perfectly clear? Probably a ton of times for each of us. How many times do we share what we want people to do, or share the vision of our ministries and still people don’t exactly seem to pick it up?

I want to share with you a story I picked up somewhere over the years that i think does a great and humorous job of helping us to see how important it is to be clear when we are speaking to kids. We need to look over our words, phrases, terminology, visuals, all of it and really think through our audience we are talking with to make sure that when we are done communicating we have not just “talked” but really “communicated” clearly.

Two old boys were out in the boonies deer hunting, and somehow Ed managed to accidentally shoot Buster. It was a pretty serious thing, and they knew they needed help.

Buster reached into his pocket and pulled out a cell phone. He handed it to Ed. “Here,“buster gasped, “call 911 and the tell them what you did.” Then buster lost consciousness. Ed dialed up the number,got a signal, and in about five seconds he was talking to a 911 operator.

“I accidentally shot buster and I think he’s dead!” Ed shouted into the phone.

The 911 operator was reassuring and told Ed she’d walk him through exactly what Ed needed to do. “The first thing,” said the operator, “is to stay calm so you can take action. I can tell you’re excited. Take a few deep breaths for me.”

Ed did that and sure enough, he could feel his heart quit beating so fast.

“Great,“said the operator. “Now, the second thing is to make sure your friend is actually dead.”

The operator heard the phone as it was set on the ground then a shot rang out, Ed came back online. “OK, I made sure he was dead” Ed said. “What’s the next thing?”

In this little story Ed did really well following directions. He did everything that was asked of him. But because he didn’t catch hold of the goal (to save busters life),he ended up doing something foolish. (Now, just a s a disclaimer, this is a fictitious story and no one should really do this and no one was really hurt during the telling of this make believe story)

Even though this story was as stated a fictitious story, something happens all across the globe all the time that is not fictitious. It is when we think we are clear when we are not and we challenge boys and girls to win the world, & be all they can be for God and “we” lose them through our un-clarity and God gets the blame.

It is our responsibility as leaders to make sure people understand the goals and purpose of what we are telling them about so they can make good decisions. I believe that when kids, parents, and families have “clear” communication they will find ways to succeed.

Is this clear?

Book Review: Steering Through Chaos by Scott Wilson

Pastor Scott Wilson has definateley hit a home run with his book “Steering Through Chaos“. This book by title alone could have taken a few different unconnected but much desired directions. Pastor Scott has found a way to take all of those potential unconnected directions and mold them all into a very connected practical and often times insightful way.

My temptation here is to want to do a chapter by chapter review of this great book because I feel if you do not consume the whole book, you are definateley missing out. But, I will resist temptation and try to mention only a few items.

Scott does begin the book by setting up for his readers the guaranteed pain that will and does come from growing and changing. As a matter of fact Pastor Scott quotes Gerald Brook’s words: “Your church will grow only to the level of your pain threshold.” I must say that I added this to my Evernote file. Scott goes on and says that “Ultimately, leading transitions isn’t about changing the direction of the church or changing the staff. It’s about God changing me as a leader so that I can trust him more fully, listen to Him more intently, and obey Him more gladly.” Scott then goes on and finishes this particular paragraph on page 31 with this reminder: “A disciple is not above his teacher. If Jesus faced challenges i ministry, I shouldn’t be surprised if I do as well.”

Pastor Scott continues now that he has adequately set up the scene for change, challenging our norm and comfort to laying out through the rest of the book some very practical but yet deep ideas of how to grow through all of this. He shares the battles he had early in his ministry of aligning the right people for the right ministry fit. Scott shares the realities of the people not knowing truly what the church was to do and why and how he corrected this. The ways he brought people on board with the direction and much more. But I must admit that throughout the book Pastor Scott does a good job of reminding us: “When we aren’t driven to prove ourselves or please others to win their approval, we can breathe a bit more easily and make it a priority to spend quality time with God and with our families.”

To keep true to my purpose of not writing a chapter by chapter over this great book that will go on my “must have book shelf”, I will close this off with one of the chapters that really helped me see the way that many churches end up in decline and often times have such a hard time getting out of, because of when they do realize it is happening, they are in decline. Pastor Scott tells of how to prevent this and lead through the “Chaos”.

Pastor Scott, thanks so much for sharing these brief nuggets that I have quickly mentioned, and so may more that you have shared in your book, “Steering Through Chaos”.

Fun and Fast Teams Win

I really enjoyed my subscription to Fast Company (actually my subscription just ran out and I am going to have to renew). I actually think I like the title just as much as the contents, and I really enjoy the title. I love to move quickly, I am not known for patience, just ask my wife. If I had lived back when Jesus was walking with the disciples I would have been a lot like Peter. I would love the invitation from Jesus to walk on water. I often times hear people preach about him asking Jesus to call him on out onto the water and people often ask “why” he would have done that? I always think “why would he not?” I would have been quick to cut the ear off of someone as well and then have to have my leader (Jesus) come and give me a lesson on knowing that they have everything under control.

Okay, I said all that to just say I really enjoyed a recent article that “Fast Company” had in it recently called: The Four Rules for Fast Teams. Here are the four rules they mention with a little more commentary from me on them as well plus how they may apply to Take TWO Ministries and possibly yours as well.

Let the Group Make Its Own Rules.

“You want to make sure people have a say in how they’re going to work together”. It is great and extremely important according to me to have a defined and owned set of core values, mission and vision. I also think it is very important to allow your team to have input into creating those. As time goes on and time seems to speed up even more, I am leaning more and more toward knowing that Jesus set the mission for all of us already through the Great Commission and the Great Commandment (This is truly the Take TWO), the vision for each ministry, place of employment and all can and will be different but we will accomplish it through our core values. Those core values need to be held tightly and always used as a compass.

Speak up often.
Here is something I am continuing to learn is so important. You have to have an environment that encourages people to speak their mind, their opinions and for that to be okay to do. You need to build into your culture of children’s ministry an environment that not only says we are safe but shows that it is safe to challenge things if done well. In this kind of safe environment after all has been discussed we need to recognize what we heard, maybe implement some, but then move on to accomplish the vision. People want to be heard and they want to know they have a voice. It is better to allow this to happen upfront in a safe environment than allow your people to feel that they can not voice their opinion publicly, because they will still voice their opinions, just behind closed doors and behind your back. This is often times a time that ministries become derailed. Let your people speak honestly. You will win more people that way.

Learn as You Go.
Here the main thought is as you learn share what you learn, take people along on the journey with you. This will profit the whole church and/or organization.

Fast Has to Be Fun.
The title says it all, to keep people and build a great team that can move quickly, it is important to build a place that is fun. If you have been in children’s ministry long and even if you have not been here long, you probably noticed the world the kids live in and your volunteers live in moves rather quickly. So let’s keep it fun and enjoyable. If it doesn’t stay fun you spend valuable time trying to always recruit people to come along with you in a non fun environment. Doesn’t that make you just want to jump in and be a team player? No, so why would anyone else want that?

So quickly, go and have some fun adapting these points in your own ministry.

A Eutychus Generation

I am a person who loves to read and has tons of books. I find that there are times or seasons in my life when I need to return back to the books that I have read and reread some of them. That seems to be the season that I am in at this time. Yes lately I have been going back and re-reading some children’s Ministry topic books for myself and this has served as a good refreshing time for me. One of the books I have picked up and reread recently is a book called: “Crucial Concepts in Kids Ministry”by Randy Christiansen.

In the book at the very beginning Randy starts off talking about a Eutychus generation. Randy begins to talk about that is one of the foundational reasons that churches are suffering today is that, deep down inside, their ministry to children is suffering. Many church bodies have grown to have a high pain threshold in the area of children’s Ministry. There is something vitally wrong, the leadership has grown to ignore and live with the pain. Often times churches don’t sense something is even wrong because of their high threshold of pain until children hit the teenage years where many churches then begin to see these kids as possible contributors to their volunteer base and tithers. I think usually at this time then churches can begin to diagnose the problem incorrectly, and give blame to other various causes and treat only symptons instead of the root cause. The whole local body is being affected, but they have not yet diagnosed the root problem. Few look at the ministry to children at their church. We must realize that healthy Ministry to children is a central part to the overall health of the church.

Acts 20:9-12: “….in a window sat a certain young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep. He was overcome by sleep; and as Paul continued speaking, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. But Paul went down, fell on him, and embracing him said, “to not trouble yourselves, for his life is in him.“and they brought the young man in alive…”

There are many children in the church today who we could see are just like Eutychus. Eutychus had a desire to hear the things of God and most likely desired more of God’s presence in his life. He wanted to grow in the grace and the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. He probably sat in the window because the fresh air would help him stay more attentive to Paul’s message. Children today are also attentive spiritually. Spiritual sincerity and curiosity envelope our children. Saturday morning cartoons grasp their imaginations. They want to believe that a greater spiritual creative force (God) exist. Children are searching for the reality of a supernatural power in an everyday world. This is the theme of most popular children’s books,movies and toys.

Eutychus probably exemplifies church young ones in another way. Simply stated, Eutychus fell asleep. His attention was not focused and captured. His flesh over rode his spiritual desire at the time. No one can ignore a true move of God. When children’s sense the presence of God during worship, when they lay hands on a friend and see a healing occur, when they see the unsaved walk the aisle in response to the gospel, one will not have a problem maintaining children’s attention! The reality of a relationship with the all-powerful God is not something that a person can sleep through. This spiritual atmosphere must be fanned into a flame by church leaders and committed parents. This expectation level must be set as an everyday standard. Too often our expectation level of children and ministry to them and with them doesn’t match God’s level of expectation.

Notice what Paul did, He stopped his Sermon and went down to Embrace Eutychus. Paul was not satisfied to leave Eutychus in a state of sleep, or a state of death. We face the same question today. Will we be satisfied to ignore the spiritual condition of our children? Will we stop what we are doing, to bring life back to these young ones?

Risk to become better

I am always challenged to think through how we do ministry, and why we do things a certain way. I must admit that these times of constant self examination can be painful or at least provide a little discomfort. It is a firm belief of mine that children’s ministry or any ministry for that matter was not designed to stand still. We have always got to push ourselves to get better, make continuous improvements, and expect to see more fruit.

Jesus told us to strive for more than simply maintaining the status quo. His parables about the talents (Matt. 25) and minas (Luke 19) reinforce that we should constantly look for ways to make more out of the ministry that’s been entrusted to each of us. Yes, in both stories people were given something of value and then later asked to show what they accomplished with their portion. Those who could show an increase were rewarded. Those that played it safe and tried nothing new were chastised.

The point of this to me is very clear. We need to be creative, take risks, explore new ways to make more stuff happen for the glory of God. It never seems to amaze me how quick the world around us changes by the year, month, week, hour, and even every second. The sad thing is that often the church is to scared to make changes. Too often ministries become satisfied to stay where they are because they may be seeing some results, but not as many as God may want them to experience. We need to remember that it is the message that should never change, but the method we use to share that message should constantly be changing.

Remember, change is not a bad word. An unresponsive kids ministry is on a path toward being irrelevant, and will reach less kids for Christ.

Creative Leadership

I just went back and read through a book that I had read a long time ago titled “The Creative Leader” written by Ed Young.In this book I was reminded by my notes in the book that i took wile reading it on how he makes a case for the need of “creative Leaders”. Some nuggets from my notes that I want to post here are:

* Status-quo leaders experience little growth because they are content to call upon their old education, old experiences, and old methods to address new problems. Sooner or later, the dynamic culture will pass them by and their effectiveness will completely dissolve. Their commitment to tradition and ritual, rather than innovation and excitement, will lead to a cold, dispassionate life and ministry.

How often I have seen pastors who file their sermons and just keep recalling them year after year and each time they preach them they just change the name of the church (For the record, that is in no way my pastor as he continues to find new ways and new nuggets to preach to a church he has been senior pastor at for 24 years ow). And we wonder why we see churches staying the same or hear of declines in church attendance. I have heard of a time when churches led the way but now we often hear of when people come into our churches they feel as though they may have walked through a time machine back to the past with the music, preaching, colors, well actually everything.

We in the church have to always remember that the moment we stop learning to be creative is the moment we stop being effective in this ever changing wonderful world that we get the opportunity to be a light for Christ in. We must also remember that the church must remain consistently inconsistent to be truly effective in the midst of a rapidly changing culture. Summary of this means that the church has to be committed to change and willing to take risks.

* It takes time on our knees and time getting our fingernails dirty. Great leaders not only spend time in prayer coming up with what to do and how to do it but, they are also responsible for putting the plan in motion. Without working out the plan to completion, all we have is an idea. The world is full of good ideas. Leaders are those who are willing to put in the time it takes to make the ideas a reality.

I remember being at a friends house while on a trip for a children’s pastor conference that was being done in Williamsburg, Virginia when he showed me a newspaper article of a teenager who made the news by creating a million dollar web page. Yes this teen sold spots on this web page a $1.00 per pixel. Within 4 months he had made over a million dollars. As the newspaper said, “…it was one of those ideas that you would say to yourself, why didn’t I think of that?” That is exactly what I was thinking and my friend had also thought the same thing. I say all this because here was a teen who took an idea and created an action plan to carry it out and he took responsibility to put the action plan in motion. How many times, ideas, opportunities have we had that if we would of just started on the execution of the plan could we of made major changes, taken the lead, created our Blue Ocean, or one for our churches?

* Creativity takes labor. In fact, the creative cycle is similar to the birthing cylce: There is the conception, the pregnancy, the labor, and the delivery. Some leaders conceive these fabulous ideas and then it just ends. They don’t want to go through the pregnancy, that difficult labor, or the uncertainty of the birth. But ideas are only as good as the results they yield.

Only a constant commitment to the creative process will yield the results that God desires for our ministries, churches, and our lives.

Growth through Vision

We all seem to want to grow our churches, ministries, businesses and the such but more often than not we don’t see that growth. I have spent tons of time at conferences with the best of them, listened to story after story, read book after book about how to grow and yet I still hear and see things remain the same in so many places, churches, and businesses. What is some of the cause of this stagnation or decline after a while? Do we bring it on ourselves? I believe in a saying that I heard John Maxwell say (I am not sure if he created the statement but it was him that I heard say it first for me) “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” It is over the years that I continue to realize the truth in this statement.

I see that once leadership has traveled down a certain path, it is difficult to choose a new path but not impossible. Often times barriers to the growth that so many are after come from the leadership (Even as I write this today I too am part of leadership in many of my circles, so my hands are not completely innocent either) that is caused by repeated patterns of behavior, otherwise know as “path dependency” which is the term I first read about in the book, “The very large church” by Lyle Schaller.

I have always been taught by some of the greatest mentors out there in the church and business world that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. How many times have we constrained ourselves to destructive patterns in our churches or businesses that prevent the growth we are talking about? Our churches and businesses are to grow and have an impact into our culture for Christ.

I want to take a few moments and look at only two even though there are several fundamentals that could help us break through and into the growth we should be part of.

1. Clarity of Vision

Churches must have a heart for people. If your vision is to care for the contented, then you will not produce passion in your people or volunteers to reach outside your current boundaries.

One of the exciting things of having a clear vision is recognizing the needs currently in your communities. Instead of waiting for the community to show up at our doorsteps, churches break through a barrier by being present in normal ever day society, meeting actual physical, emotional, spiritual needs of the people. Churches that are effective reaching people are those who see the needs of those outside of the church and establish ministries that allow the church to be present in the community, and they also have a process by which they are able to draw these people into the safety and care of the church.

Leaders of growing churches or businesses also know who they are, why they exist, and where they are going. They communicate this and communicate this over and over very clearly and assume always that they must continue to communicate it. Leaders in growing churches and businesses build bridges to the future while they are walking there.

2. Unity of leadership

I had read a book by Larry Osborne, pastor of North Coast Community Church in the San Diego area which he titled, “The Unity Factor”. The key message of this book was, “Get the key influencers in your church to share a common vision.” Without leadership in leadership there will never be a lasting ministry or growth that breaks through their barriers.

I think a lot of times their isn’t unity due to leaders who are afraid for one reason or not to confront those not in unity. Often times we can hear from these leaders words like these: “oh that’s the way they are”, or “I don’t think God wants us to treat people like that”, or “someday they will come around and understand”. Let us keep in mind that each of our visions for each of our churches will not be for everyone. That’s ok, let them go to the church where the vision fits them. I love the way Ed Young the pastor of Fellowship church in Grapevine, Texas says about his church, “That Fellowship Church is not for everyone”, and because he and his unified team are willing to stand by that that have found thousands of people who find that Fellowship Church is for them.

In closing this, I think some of us have done the math wrong, since we haven’t been willing to stand by a clear vision for our church we have seen a couple stay happy for a season but have lost 10, 20, 50, 100, 1000’s of people who have come in our churches and sensed something wasn’t right and left to go where there is a clear vision and people who will stand by what that means for that church.

God does want us to break through barriers, we need to take steps necessary to see those growth barriers removed, today , because people are counting on us.

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