Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Simple for Who

I am a big fan of Simple Church. The book, and also the principle. We don’t want to have a bunch of programs, so we can have good programs. We don’t want to do a hundred things decent…we want to do a few things really well.

But in the fight for simplicity, I think it’s important to consider the reason you’re keeping things simple.  I’m not trying to keep things simple to have less to do or keep things off my plate. I’m not going to allow simplicity become an excuse for us to not do things well.

  • I’m not going to make a simple website because it’s less work…it needs to be simple because that’s what is best for the user.
  • I’m not going to make a theology class simple because I don’t want to wrestle with the trinity or the Image of God, I’m going to keep it simple so people can understand.
  • I’m not going to not have a mid-week service because we don’t want to staff it…we’re going to focus on the weekend so we can make a greater impact.

Simplicity isn’t a ticket out of working hard. It’s not about you anyway. It’s about them.

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Make it Better

One reason that our weekend services have consistently improved is because of the constant evaluation.  In fact, it’s the most talked about and evaluated part of our church.

  • We have planning meetings weeks and months in advance.
  • We do a run-thru before the first service.
  • On Saturday night after the service, we evaluate and tweak minor things to make things better.
  • On Monday and Tuesday, we spend a good deal of time writing down thoughts and sharing them with other people.
  • Every weekly production meeting includes hits and misses from the previous week.
  • Every staff member attends the service and has opportunity to provide feedback and input.  And we ask for this feedback on a regular basis?
  • Several people are looking at the service with a critical eye.

What if staff members looked at other environments once a month to gauge their effectiveness?  What if our production people sat through an elementary service?  What if some connections staff members helped in preschool or at kids check in?  What if some kids people assisted in the parking lot or saw parents walking children up to the building?

It’s possible to have too many opinions, and as they say…you can’t please everyone.  But it’s also possible to have too few opinions.  More people evaluating procedures, environments and events will lead to better procedures, environments and events.  You don’t need a new title or a specific authority to offer opinions on what would make something stronger in our church.

Coaching Network Update

Applications are staring to come in for the church planters coaching network that’s set to begin this August.  We’re going to meet once a month for six months and talk nuts and bolts of church planting.  I’m limiting the network to about 10-12 people, who are just about to launch or are already launched, and I think it will be worth your while.

We’re going to talk staffing, vision, money, leading, ministry, programming, and more.  I’ll give you every document…bylaws, meeting agendas, forms…that we’ve got.  I’ll let you know how all our systems really work.   We’ll focus on how to launch and how to lead.  I will connect your staff with people on our staff as well, with the hopes of developing an ongoing relationship.  We’ll meet most of one day a month in Cartersville at the House of Rock, and lunch will be provided.

We’re partnering with Westridge, and I’ll invite some of my church planting friends in so we can learn from the people actually doing it.  Three years into this, I honestly believe that coaching is one of the missing pieces in most church plants.  Think about it…professional athletes still have coaches!

If you’re interested, email Tracy and she will send you an application.  The first meeting will be in August.

Redefining Discipleship

Defining the win is good. But what do you do when it’s not working? A lot of churches and organizations just redefine it.

I confess to you that small groups have always kicked our butt at Oak Leaf Church. We’ve never been able to reach what we would consider an effective level, according to our standards. We’ve tried several different things, and we always think we’re “almost there,” but it’s been hard. I’m tempted to just give up, cancel them, and try something different.

I know of a couple large, influential churches who are somewhat abandoning groups as a means for discipleship. While there will surely be groups within they church, they wouldn’t be official ministries. Instead, they are redefining discipleship as serving. They are emphasizing the weekend and mobilizing their people to make the weekend happen. I think this will be a trend in new churches over the next ten years, just like groups were the trend twenty years ago.

I further confess to you that killing groups is attractive to me as a church leader. It’s simpler, gets more people involved in the bread and butter program of the church, and gets the small group monkey off my back. In a way, it takes the hardest thing we do, the thing that causes the most relational tension and staff meeting headaches, and just sweeps it away.

But something inside of me just won’t let go.

I fear that we’re willing to spend the time, money and staff to make our Internet campuses and multi-sites work because they are fun and cutting edge, while letting Biblical discipleship suffer because it’s hard to figure out.

I don’t have a problem with a church getting rid of small groups if they determine that there’s a better way to make disciples. Maybe groups need to go in favor of web-based personalized discipleship plans. Maybe groups need to go in favor of one-on-one coaching ala personal trainers at the gym. Or maybe groups need to go in favor of something else.

INFORMATION TRANSFER

We may be able to cover care and community via other ministries in our church. But please don’t push back against information to the point where anything information-based is taken off the menu. Christians need to know how to study the Bible. They need to know Church History. They need to wrestle with Theology. They need Godly pastors, teachers and leaders teaching the Word.

Jesus said that we would know the truth, and the truth would set us free. How can we be set free by the truth if we never know it? The Bible is living, active and sharper than a double-edged sword, and that we should learn how to handle it correctly. Can we do this effectively if we’re simply attending a church service?

Is there a call call to not only become better Christians, but smarter Christians, with a deeper and richer understanding of the Gospel? In recent years, new churches have pushed back against classes, seminars and things that look like information transfer because we have a bedrock conviction that information without transformation is useless. That is absolutely true…information alone leads to pride and arrogance and doesn’t automatically make us better Christ followers.

We often make fun of people who want to “go deep” in their faith, but never pick up a towel of service. And rightfully so! Growing as a Christian is NOT about acquiring knowledge. But let’s not forget that Paul was educated and smart. Let’s not forget that the early Christian leaders debated and discussed heavy theological issues like the Trinity and that we stand on their works. Let’s not forget that Luther, and Calvin, and Whitfield were students of Scripture and that they are our heritage. Let’s not forget that great songwriters are often Theologians. Let’s not forget that spiritual learning doesn’t have to be academic.

The reality is that information should be the beginning point. It’s pretty hard to change without processing information. We can’t repent of sin if we are not confronted with information. We cannot understand the cross, salvation, or the church without information.

Information isn’t the end-goal, but it’s often the starting point. So instead of getting rid of anything that looks like a class, why not make those classes more effective, more interesting, more transformational. It’s not that college is bad, it’s that too many classes are boring and useless.

The important thing is that the method doesn’t matter as much as the Biblical imperative of making disciples.

Because small groups really aren’t the end goal anyway. The goal is making disciples, and that’s been the goal ever since the great commission. The win, no matter how cute our mission statements get is making disciples. We can do that without Sunday School, small groups, fog machines, and worship bands.

Strengthfinders

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We’ve recently taken most of our staff through the Clifton Strengthsfinders assessment, and I highly recommend the process. You can buy the book for about $12, and it comes with a code to take the test online.

You’ll learn a lot about yourself, and about your team. You’ll learn what challenges a certain kind of person and how to communicate with that person.  The short little book does a great job describing each strength.

Here’s a breakdown of the strengths for the people who are on our Lead Team. It’s cool how my assistant compliments my strengths. And there are quite a few strategic thinkers on this team, which is great.

Tell me how I am doing!!

I don’t know if there is a more effective tool in all of leadership then feedback.  You can give all of the directives, make them read all of the books, listen to a great sermon, but your staff will never know if it really paid off until you tell them how they are doing.  If you have kids you do it naturally, because you are desperately trying to build their confidence and feed their self-worth.  I would ask, why do we stop with the people that we lead?  They can’t lead a ministry for years on the accolades of their high school baseball coach or their Mom’s gleeful smiles when they got the main role in the high school play.

At Oak Leaf, we don’t necessarily do anything so much better then any other church, but I do use two tools to make sure that I am properly investing in our staff.

One is the 6-Month Staff Evaluation and the other is a Health Report (you will have to e-mail me for that) that tells me if I am regularly investing in them as a person and a Pastor.  The Health Report gives me a couple categories of investment and feedback and let’s me put in dates to track my deposits into their well-being.

Use these tools and I’m sure your staff will appreciate it!

Anthony Gratto

Executive Pastor

Leadership Development Plan

At our all staff meeting today, I shared my Leadership Development Plan with our staff.  We talked about developing volunteers and turning them into leaders.  We talked about the role of staff and how to intentionally develop leaders.  And we talked about personal leadership development.

Here is the document that I prepared and shared with our staff.

2009-leadership-development-plan-public1

Celebrate Wins

I believe that we should look back (celebrate wins) as much as we look ahead (communicate vision).  For most of us, vision is more exciting.  We’re driven people and always thinking ahead.  But we must realize that we’re probably thinking way ahead of our people.  We are on to the next thing while they are wondering what happened at the last thing.

For this reason, we should remind people of what we did, not just tell them what we’re going to do.  For every announcement, there should be a recap or a story.

If you spend two weeks encouraging people to be baptized, why not celebrate it for two weeks after the fact?  Celebrating that win (looking back) will actually reinforce the vision of your church.

If you push a marriage class for three weeks, why not tell stories that come out of that class for the next three?

Don’t let a win go by without celebrating it.

Organizational Change

Most of the major decisions in our church come from our Lead Team, which is a group of pastors that lead the church.  Over time, this group has grown in size, but we recently made a change that I believe will help us grow.

We’ve shrunk the size of this team.  It’s not because we don’t value input or ideas.  In fact, teamwork is one of our core values.  Instead, we’ve made this team smaller so that we can lead bigger.

I want everyone that works for Oak Leaf Church to be good stewards of their time.  It doesn’t make sense for our children’s leaders to be sitting in a meeting where we are talking about capital campaigns or greeters.  He needs to be meeting with and leading his teams.  I don’t need our worship and production people sitting in a meeting about financial systems.

By shrinking the size of this group, our staff is  becoming more like a football team…with specialized players.  The offense and the defense both have the same goals (win the game!), but they don’t do the same drills or sit in the same meetings.  When this team is talking about production, we’ll bring in the right people.  When we’re talking about children, we’ll bring in those people.  But we all don’t need to devote half of a day to things that are outside our area of expertise.

So the Lead Team has become the Directional Team, and we’ve gone from 6 people down to three people.  I’m sure that will change over time, but at this stage, we feel like smaller is simpler.  And simpler is better.

what does a connections pastor do pt.2

Part of the success of my areas of ministry “assimilating people into the life of the church and impacting the community that we serve in” is seeing attainable goals reached regularly. Here are eight of my current goals for the rest of this year. Keeping these in front of myself daily will keep me clear on task and will assure that people are connecting and becoming part of the church family. Helping their personal faith walks and assuring that we serve our community purposefully.

1. Develop 6 Ushers per service (including the House of Rock).  The first service may need only 4, but we need 6 for the other two.  The House of Rock services are up for debate.
2. Get the Baptism and Salvation numbers to improve by 10-17%.  We currently have a 33% ratio of Salvations to Baptisms and it needs to be above 40% by the end of the year.  Next year we will need to get it above 50%.
3. Schedule and run at least 2 more Partnership Classes by the end of the year.
4. Develop a report and a strategy to determine the health of Oak Leaf Church partners.  Provide information on how many of them are active (giving, serving, in a group, attending, etc.).  In the future this should happen once a quarter.
5. We need to add a minimum of 50 new partners by the end of the year.
6. Create a spreadsheet to track and report the 10-week average fill rate for connections ministry (ushers, greeters, information table, etc.).  Provide a key that shows how you come up with your number and then record the numbers.  The 10-week average needs to stay above 90%.
7. Have at least 2 volunteers per service at the information table.
8. Develop a comprehensive Community Service Plan.  Include the goals, purpose, and dates.  It needs to be comprehensive and thorough.  We need to know if it was a success.

Mitch Moyer  connections pastor