- If God have you something specific for your life, share it with one other person. // This is big in two ways. When God speaks we need to share it with someone so go ahead and find someone you trust and process what God said to you with them. Also when we go ahead and have the courage to share what God said we are less likely to push it away and just forget what God tried to communicate to us. Many times getting busy leads us to push aside God's mission for our life.
- Looks back over you notes and decide what's most important. // When you look back over what you learned some things are going to stand out. Make those things your priorities and take action. Also make another list of things that can wait. Great ideas have to trump good ideas.
- Decide what you learned that your team needs to hear. // The people (staff and volunteers) back at church can't hear or understand everything you learned so choose what is most important and share it with your team.
- Allow what you learned to bring focus not discouragement. // Sometimes coming back from a conference makes us wonder why people around us just don't get it? Why are things not moving faster? That is a trap so move forward ASAP! Get focused, not discouraged. True leadership means we step out and lead our team in the right direction and that will take time.
Monday, April 30, 2012
Friday, April 27, 2012
Is bigger better? Sometimes yes and sometimes no. I know that it's hard for all next generation leaders to deal with because we are addicted to growth. We find joy in growth. We find our identity in growth. We find affirmation in growth. Sometimes we love bigger more than Jesus. I know that because I have experienced it. I have found more joy in growing numbers than my relationship with Jesus. Today Doug Fields helped us process how many times we are blinded by growth, blinded by our pace, and blinded by comparison. Here are his thoughts from the session...
Many time we focus on the wrong things. Here are some spotlights that blind us...
Numbers / when bigger is better you feel the pressure to feed the beast
Pace of life / ministry becomes a sprint, you skim on relationships
Constant comparison / outside the church, inside the church, how we speak, how they speak
When you focus on these things too much you get burned and drained. The majority of us focus on these way too much.
Bigger is NOT better, better is better / people do not want to be a number they want to be known, people want to be a part of a thriving organization not a big organization,
Hurry is the enemy of depth / business comes with a price tag, depth of people, myself, and Jesus comes when we slow down
Replace comparison with effectiveness / we need to stop comparing and start abiding in Jesus, effectiveness helps us find peace in giving our all
We need Jesus to open our eyes. He is the real light of life not artificial light.
Just a few more ideas Doug through out...
When people talk about how busy they are something is broken.
Every leader, ministry, and church looks better from a distance than is in reality.
When you look to the future do you like the kind of leader you are becoming.
How do we develop a healthy culture inside our staff and volunteer culture? We ask that question often if we lead any size team. We read books about it, we lead training to encourage it, and we find ourself frustrated when people don't get it. This morning Andy Stanley helped us process the root question to ask when you want to learn how to play well together inside our leadership environments. That question is...HOW CAN I HELP YOU? Check out these notes from the session this morning...
You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:41-45 ESV)
Healthy and productive staff cultures are characterized by mutual submission.
The question mutual submission asks is HOW CAN I HELP?
How can I leverage my influence for you?
The struggle comes with this idea is when pastors and leaders feel like the anointing in a leadership role demands special treatment. We are all servants. Look at what Jesus said, event he came to serve others. The annointed one means you are the best servant. The new testament talks about the church being a body not a corporation with a CEO.
1. Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone. // Do not allow the pressure to be "fair" stop you from helping people. Be engaged and take action. Being fair will keep you from serving anyone.
2. Systemize top down service. // Figure out how we can make service happen all year long. Place service into your calendar.
3. Create and maintain a sustainable pace. // The reason many of us don't help others is we do not have time.
4. Celebrate and reward mutual submission. // Who helps you go further faster? Share that answer!
What is rewarded is repeated.
5. Confront your ego. // If this is all about you tell people. We know it's not but sometimes we lead like it.
6. Drop the term loyalty from your vocabulary. // When we demand loyalty we have a loyalty problem.
The starting post for creating a culture of mutual submission is...HOW CAN I HELP?
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Leading change is one of the hardest things any leader has to do. Most next generation leaders love change. We love change because we know it will help the ministry grow. The people you lead are not always as excited about change because you are changing their routine. Our team at Grace Community Church understand this process because we are a little addicted to change. We also have experienced the pain of change when the people resisted the process. Today at The Orange Conference Carey Nieuwhof talked us through the process of making exponential change in our church culture. Check out these 5 steps to take and look for his ebook on this process summer of 2012.
1. Start by casting a vision bigger than yourself (your organization)
Outward vision attracts people.
A bigger vision implies bigger change.
Plot and share trajectory. Reveal where we are doing and what happens if there is no change.
2. Focus on the why behind the what.
Why is the best question a leader can answer.
How and what divides.
3. Set realistic expectation for everyone
Understand but don't be deterred by the cost.
People will leave.
Change before decline. Courageous leaders ask questions in their best days.
Changing what's working can create greater long term success.
Asking questions early leads to a season of conflict.
Conflict is not fun but you will have to make change before others see the need.
The greatest threat to your future success is your current success.
4. Communicate in concentric circles.
Make sure the people most invested have the most information.
Dialog with the core. / Don't make changes in isolation.
Get input from the committed. / Many times people don't want to make decisions they just want input.
Get information to the congregation.
Vision to the crowd.
Invitation to the community.
5. Be prepared to change again. You are never done.
Don't rest on your success. Don't trust in your success more than the need to change.
Stay committed to the vision but not nessesarily to the methods.
Hold your model loosely and your mission tightly.
What kind of kids are we raising? That's a question every parent, educator, and next generation pastor asks often. This morning we started the day off at the Orange Conference with Craig Groechel asking us that question. I know if you have kids or you serve kids then you probably have a few thoughts about the question. Here are the notes from today's talk!
As parents and as leaders what is success for the next generation?
Culture says: success is raising well rounded well educated happy kids
Jesus said: what good is it for a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul
We are called by God to release single minded, biblically anchored, Christ centered, kids who are world changers.
The quickest way to move off track in life is to be more concerned with what people think of us over what God thinks about us.
How do we raise kids that are single minded, christ centered, biblically anchored kids...
Enlist supporting voices. / the parents voice is always the most important voice but it can't be the only voice.
Raise the expectation / we reduce following Jesus to loving God with some of our heart and not all. We have to raise the standard. What are our standards for teens? Stay out of trouble. We have a generation we are raising who have low standards. Teens believe they can do what they are told they can do. They will rise to the standard we set.
When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. (1 Corinthians 13:11, 12 NLT)
Keep it real / make sure faith is real and consistent in all areas of life. This generation can sense fake. They will do what they see is real.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Tonight Reggie Joiner opened up the Orange Conference and even as I type this I am trying to wrap my mind around he full weight of his talk tonight. The truth is that what we do in family ministry is messy because the Gospel is messy. You can't serve teens, kids, college students, preschoolers, or parents and led them to Jesus and not get messy. Some of us have spent so much time eliminating the mess from our life and our ministry that we forgot the gospel is messy. Tonight we processed the idea of living in the mess and helping families learn to live their faith in a messy messy world. Jesus lives in the mess...why are we not joining Him there. I'm just gonna share these thoughts and let you process it with us here at the conference. Here are my notes...I'm still processing...
The gospel is messy. // Sometimes God places messy people in our lives to remind us that the gospel is messy!
There is no way to do what we do in ministry without getting messy
There was no way for Jesus to do what He did without getting messy. // Jesus did not die to make you happy just to make you forgiven.
There is no way to make disciples without getting messy. //The disciples were willing to get messy because they watched Jesus for three years do ministry in the mess. The gospel is not just about creating environments where Christians can become more Christian. The gospel is about stepping into the mess with the message of hope and salvation. This is not something we sign up for. We are called to this. Times are changing but we stand strong because we serve a Savior that understands messy.
There is no way to make disciples without them getting messy. // We must invite this generation into the process and get messy doing ministry so they are equipped to do ministry in a messy world when they leave. The gospel transcends culture. What would happen if the world around us actually believed we loved them. We raise kids who have faith in a God bigger than our church and our theology.
At Grace Community Church we are a portable church. We rent 2 schools for our Sunday environments and we rent a local church on Wednesday nights for our student ministry. We live the portable idea every week. Sometimes we love it and sometimes we hate it. One thing we try to never do is allow our facility to limit our ministry possibilities. When God gives an idea we know He will make a way. I went to a great session today on how to do family ministry events even when you don't own your facility. Buildings don't do ministry, people do. In the portable church world we simply have to think outside the box. Here are some things we are doing at GCC and some ideas that I heard at the breakout today at the Orange Conference. Here are some ideas...
- Host a Preschool FX on Sunday mornings or after church at a local park.
- Have a Parade day in a neighborhood.
- Host a Live nativity at a park in December.
- At GCC we are renting out a skating rink for a skate night for families.
- Use a projector and screen and host a Movie night
- Host a easter event...call it something crazy like an eggstavaganza!
- Take your Preschool families to a local pumpkin patch during the week.
- Have Serve days at schools for parents and kids to serve together
- Have a Familt Experience for the community in a theatre or local park.
- Glow in the dark Easter egg hunt on Saturday night of Easter for the community!
- Karaoke night for families / dinner and dance!!
- Mother - daughter tea / Father daughter dance at a rented facility
- Have a Battle of the bands for teens with bands.
- Use the facility you rent to have a family experience after your last church service once a month.
- Chalk up the town / one street free chalk lots of art and yes get permission!
Ok, there ya go. Never let your facility determine how you serve families. Find a way, have fun, and go for it!
As a family pastor there is nothing harder than helping our team stay aligned. My job is to help our preschool, children's, youth, and college leaders fight together for a common vision instead of just for the ministry they lead. Our team at Grace Community is always working on this. It is a constant battle because we are moving at such a fast pace as we reach families. This morning I had the chance to hear Todd Clark, lead pastor at Discovery Church in California, and he helped us process how to get and keep alignment. It was probably the most helpful session on alignment I have every heard. Check these notes out from the session.
Here are seven insights into gaining and maintaining alignment...
- Develop a proper reference point. / balance is needed! Balance our busyness with the proper goal. Not programs but it's people and a person Jesus Christ.
- Constant corrections / we lose balance when we refuse to make needed corrections. People on the team come together when problems are solved and forward motion is gained!
- Clearly and constantly articulate your mission, vision, and strategy. / use every opportunity to share the stories that matter. It will take years! Alignment is a process.
- Foster and atmosphere of input / true alignment is fostered and not coerced. Every team member needs the freedom to have a voice. We ask people to buy into the dream. When staff have influence they can buy in to the team's direction. When a big move comes we have to ask how we will be do this and get input! 2 meetings instead of 1 meeting! Acceptance and agreement are not the same thing as alignment. Acceptance is the bottom level of alignment, agreement gives you their mind, alignment happens when you have the head and the heart!
- Trust your instincts and confront mis-aligned team members. / if you feel like someone is pulling in a different direction I bet they are! Confront it. Mis-aligned team members are not going to align themselves and they will draw other team members off track.
- Little deviations in direction are devastating over time. / the faster pace our organizations run means being off course just a little can be devastating to the church. Growth demands alignment.
- We vs. Me / alignment means we have to constantly push people to think we because we are drawn to focus on me. Alignment happens when a team member, regardless of position, gives precedence to the team they belong to over the team they lead.
A brain can only do what it is capable of doing.
For middle schoolers...Prefrontal cortex doesn't develop until people are 25 years old. It controls... Alertness and attention / Planning and forethought / Priority setting /Working memory / Multi-tasking / Regulating appropriate social behavior
For middle schoolers...theire Cerebellum is in a state of renovation.
Balance / Language / Motor coordination /Attention
Middle school students are experiencing synaptic pruning - the brain focuses on keeping what is repeated and getting rid of stuff that is not used. Ideas become hard wired by experiences and repetition. Extra info sometimes get lost! We have to teach less for more because the truth is that kids are only going to learn so much. You can't teach kids everything. You have to decide at the end of the day what is most important.
Middle school students are learning about this idea...Metacognition - the ability to have a conversation with yourself. / middle schoolers hear themselves for the first time.
The world does not revolve around them.
Their parents are not perfect. They lose trust.
They are not perfect. They lose trust in themselves.
Others have ideas that are just as important as theirs.
They ask themselves for the first time. Do I believe in mom and dads god?
With middle school students we can expect...
A struggle with sense of identity
They are more likely to express feelings by actions and not words.
Close friendships gain importance.
Less affection shown to parents.
A tendency to return to childish behavior.
Peer groups influence interests and clothing style.
A feeling of invincibility
Engagement in risky behaviorsPreference to be with friends over family.
Realize parents are not perfect and sometimes point that out.
A search for new adults to confide in other than parents.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
- Join the discussion online // you can see what people are saying during the conference by following along on twitter with the hashtag #OC12. There are also about 15 bloggers here and they will be processing ideas online for you to digest. You can also join in live online with our backstage feed at Orange Leaders.com
- Take some notes // we remember so much more when we write and listen at the same time. Make sure you capture ideas in a way you will be able to use them later.
- Talk to the people around you // I have met some amazing people here at Orange who have become friends over the years. Talk to the people around you. Hear their story. Share ideas. Encourage someone.
- Be willing to rethink everything // use the next few days to rethink what you do in your ministry and how you do it. This is a conference that will challenge you to think outside the ministry box. Drop your assumptions and dream a little this week.
- Slow down // next generation leaders are always going 100 miles an hour. Please slow down enough this week to listen to the voice of God. He is speaking...listen.
- Take time to worship // next generation leaders are usually busy leading others in worship..teaching others...serving others. Make sure this week you take time to worship our great God.
Monday, April 23, 2012
Show Up / Make being at group a priority. Showing up each week for your group is the foundation of building consistent relationships. Your group needs to know they are important. They can tell if you make them a priority. If you do they might just make you a priority in their life.
Connect outside of group / Write a note, send an email, go to a game, host a group event, go on a retreat, and send plenty of texts. All of these things lead to connecting outside of group.
Listen more / As group leaders we have to become the master of asking questions and allowing our group to be heard. Kids and teens want to share their story...listen as much as possible. Questions lead to discussion and discussion leads to teachable moments.
Friday, April 20, 2012
In just a few days 5,000 youth ministers, senior pastors, volunteers, children's pastors, college, and preschool pastors are going to descend on Atlanta for The Orange Conference and there is still room for you to join us. By the time you read this post we will probably be 20 leaders away from going over 5,000 at Orange and if you are 5,001 you are going for free to the 2013 Orange Conference thanks to the team at Minister Search sponsoring the spot! The Orange Conference has been a part of my life for the past 5 years and I am such a better leader because of the time I have spend around this conference every year. Next week I'm taking some of our staff from Grace Community Church and I am blogging from the conference. Here is what I am looking forward to next week at Orange...
- Connecting with other leaders // there is no better place like Orange to meet tons of next generation leaders. I am so blessed every year as I get to connect with and learn from so many leaders passionate about reaching the next generation!
- Dreaming with our staff // every year our team walks away with significant ideas that we get to bring back and implement in our church.
- Evaluating, evaluating, evaluating // love having time to get away and just evaluate how our family ministry team is doing...sometimes you just need time away to get better perspective.
- Laugh, celebrate, and refuel // a great conference allows you to do all three! Can't wait to do all three!
That'a what I'm excited about. There is still time to jump in and it's worth it even if you can only come to pre-conference or to Thursday and Friday sessions only. Get registered today and join us at Orange 2012!
Thursday, April 19, 2012
- when only 2 out of 10 kids show up for small group
- when the only thing they they remember from the service is that funny video you showed
- when small group leaders call right before you start the service to say they can't come
- when the band has to start a song over because the drummer forgot the intro
- when you have to get on to kids or teens breaking stuff in your environment
- when the breaker blows and everything electronic stops in the middle of the service you spent 10 hours this week planning
- when people want to know who is coming before they sign up for the retreat.
- when none of kids at church "take home" the the "take home tools" and none of the parents use the ones they have!
- when the weather changes and you have a small crowd at your family experience
- when "activities" (sports, dance, school, you name it) keep kids and teens from plugging in
- when small group blows up...with DRAMA
- when literally no one signs up for the event you planned
- when your worship leader on Sunday sleeps in and you have to fill in...unprepared!
Philippians 1:6 (NLT)
6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
Paul's confidence and hope was in God and not in his ministry or his plan or his work. Our confidence should be placed in God and not in our efforts or circumstances. God will finish what we have started. We are a part of something bigger...the Kingdom...and it's never going to end and God will win. Don't walk away!
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
- Push them to make the idea a reality (they do the work) >> Adults really empower teens when we push them to do the hard work. We do not help teens when we shortcut the process and do the work for them. Making any idea reality takes hard work and when teens have the idea they need and want to do the work.
- Support them with resources we have >> This is different for every idea a teen might have. We do try to help with what resources we have.
- Help them to focus >> Many times teens need help cutting out what might be good so they can accomplish what will be great. Help them to say no to some ideas so they can focus.
- Be a voice of wisdom >> We can help teens avoid problems. As adults we can look out for problems and help teens address the before they become a reality.
- Spread the word >> We always try to leverage our social media tools for student led events and causes. We also try to find creative ways to let adults know about events in our church family. Parents and other adults love seeing teens do things that make a difference.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
- Make reading the Bible a part of your family schedule // Most days our family eats breakfast together and four mornings a week we read a few verses from the Bible together and do a short devotion that our kids ministry provides us. It works because it's easy and it allows God to influence our family in the flow of our family life. This is just part of who we are as a family and the earlier you start the better it goes!
- Memorize a verse with your kids each month // My wife started this with our kids last year and it has been so much fun. Our kids ministry has a verse of the month and every morning we say the verse. I'm not good at memorizing scripture and yep this has been so cool for me as a dad. I'm learning it and it's part of our family routine.
- As a parent have a time each day when you read the Bible // If you want your kids to read the Bible you have to make time to do it yourself. When kids see parents read the Bible they see that our faith is more than just a Sunday morning event we attend. You need the Bible in your life everyday if you want to set the tone for your family. There are great tools out there to help you read everyday on your computer, tablet, or smartphone so go for it!
- Challenge your kids to read every day and give them tools // When your kids are old enough give them a Bible they can read and understand then challenge them to find a time to read everyday. No pressure either! When my girls do not feel like reading they take a day off. So far my third graders had tackled John, Acts, and now is working on Genesis! Yes she has asked some wild questions but it has been fun. My kindergartner pretends to read because she watches big sister then draws pictures of God!
Monday, April 16, 2012
Thursday, April 12, 2012
The effective executive accepts that the boss is human (something that intelligent young subordinates often find hard). Because the superior is human, he has his strengths; but he also has limitations. To build on his strengths, that is, to enable him to do what he can do, will make him effective—and will make the subordinate effective. To try to build on his weaknesses will be as frustrating and as stultifying as to try to build on the weaknesses of a subordinate. The effective executive, therefore, asks: “What can my boss do really well?” “What has he done really well?” “What does he need to know to use his strength?” “What does he need to get from me to perform?” He does not worry too much over what the boss cannot do. / Page 93, The Effective Executive
No matter what level of the organization you lead work hard to always try to serve those above you, in leadership over you by building on their strengths and not exposing their weaknesses. The heart of great leadership is humble service. Celebrate and build on the strengths of your boss and you will advance the mission of your organization.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. (John 10:10 NLT)
The other day a young leader and I were connecting for lunch and we began to process what it takes to avoid the traps of Satan as we serve others. He asked a simple question...how can I avoid the trap? Over the years I have learned that I have to fight to embrace a simple truth if I am going to avoid the trap. If I am going to maintain public moral boundaries I have to be willing to say NO to the enemy in my private life. Every trap the enemy has begins when no one else is looking. The traps we fall into originate in the private places of our life. Saying no in the private sets us up to avoid traps publicly. Want to avoid the traps of the enemy? Here are a few thoughts on how to do that...
- Be honest with a few people you trust >> We all need a few people in our lives who have our back and know our weak spots. In my life my wife and a few guys play that role for me and they have freedom to challenge me! A few people need to know you, the private you, the one Satan is coming after.
- Make private sin really difficult to pull off >> Make sure you have accountability on your mobile devices and your computers. Make sure you do not meet with the opposite sex behind closed doors or alone. Make sure you limit digital conversations on Facebook, by email, or text that might be questionable. Make sure you avoid places or situations that tempt you to give in to the enemy.
- Continually strive to have your heart aimed at Jesus >> Stay in God's word. Make time to worship every week with other believers even if you are on a church staff and you are busy. Stay connected with a small group.
- Celebrate when you say NO in the private >> When you win a private victory by saying no, celebrate. You won that battle. It is a big deal and when we choose God's way over the enemy God is pleased! Celebrate!
- Pray for protection >> You can't do this alone. Pray for God to surround you and protect you and your family.
Monday, April 9, 2012
- Celebrate with your team >> This is big. I know you have ideas of how you want to improve next year but please slow down and celebrate with your team. Share stories of life change. Breathe and take time to thank God. Tell your volunteers what a great job they did!
- Follow Up >> Make sure to follow up with as many families as possible this week. Every visiting family needs to hear from your family ministry team and then work hard to reach out to families you saw during the day. Make Easter as personal as possible.
- Strategically pray for families that visited on Easter >> Make sure you are praying for families that visited. Satan will try to distract them and keep them from coming back. Pray God will make a way for our churches to connect with those families!
- Make sure you are striving for excellence the next 4 weeks >> Glad you had a rocking Easter. Make sure when families come back they are seeing them same level of excellence. Go for it. Plan some surprises!
- Make some plans for next Easter >> Sometime this week write down some ideas for how you can make next Easter Sunday work more efficiently. Capture ideas now while it is fresh on your mind!
Thursday, April 5, 2012
XP3 Networking Event 2012 from Orange on Vimeo.
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
- The wrong kids always become the target >> Most of the times it's the weaker kid, the new kid, the different kid who becomes the target of a prank. Teens look for a safe target and go for it. We have to stand up for kids who need protecting.
- Pranks are just distracting >> Pranks become the focus of teens when they get started. Pranks distract teens form whatever event you are leading because they are planning a prank or trying to avoid being pranked. Our mission to create a safe environment for teens to grow spiritually.
- Teens make bad choices when it comes to pranks >> Teens and many leaders never know when to stop when pranks begin. Pranks push great kids to make some really dumb choices.
- I've never seen a prank lead to life change >> Never seen a person follow Christ because of a great prank that was pulled. They have a memory but I have never seen a prank lead to life change.
- Pranks can turn into a legal nightmare >> Yes, trust me...I'm a parent and if you mess with my kid you mess with me. Parents are not playing around with this stuff anymore and I really don't blame them. Allowing pranks placing you and your ministry in danger of a legal disaster.
Monday, April 2, 2012
- You get to serve multiple generations // There is nothing quite as cool as getting to watch a senior graduate and then see their 6th grade sister show up in your middle school environment. That is priceless. That is generational ministry. That is what being an influence partnered with the family looks like.
- You can take bigger risks for the Kingdom // When you have relational credibility you have the influence to take bigger risks for the Kingdom of God. People follow leaders they trust will be there if things don't go well.
- You can see your strategy through // How do you know if your strategy really is making a difference. Plant your life in a city and see what happens over the span of several years!
- You can make changes and corrections faster // When you are committed to staying you will push your self you keep molding the organization. Invest leaders don't like stagnation. Time allows you to make changes and see them through.
- You learn to strive for the bigger story and not just a perfect picture // When you stay locked in with a ministry or a church you learn to look for the bigger story for motivation. Time with people teaches you that there are no perfect families or churches. What really inspires is the bigger story that God is at work.