Within our Kairos Church Planting network we say, "Vision brings hope and a Plan brings confidence." This is a memorable way to recognize that we need to know where we headed and how we're going to get there.
We also say, "If it's in your head it's a dream; if it's on paper it's a plan." The power of putting something down on paper (yeah, that's figurative, as I'm writing this on my iPad) is amazing. More things will actually get done when we see it written then when they just rattle around in our minds.
If making a plan and writing it down are so powerful why is it that so many of us don't do it? My answer is we often overthink planning. We think planning means spending days agonizing over the issues, researching all possible answers, and preparing that way too long, no one will ever read it, doorstop of a plan. If that's what it takes--count me out! I can't do that kind of planning. Let's leave that to the Pentagon.
Instead I use this very simple 5 question planning process:
Most of the time, even for long term, complex processes, you should be able to put all this on one sheet of paper. Do that and you've got a pretty simple but darn good plan.
Remember even an idiot with a plan is more likely to succeed than a genius without one.
Good luck. Why don't you sit down and make a plan right now. if it fits on one page (one side only) send it to me. I'll love seeing what you're working on.
It’s the time of year when resolutions and plans, hopes and dreams, are pasted on our mirrors, stuck on our walls, or presented in PPT strategy sessions. As an organizational leader and an individual the problem I have with resolutions is not the planning—it’s the execution!
Recently I was at an event where the speaker had written “flawless execution” alongside the diagram of his talk. Wow, that got my attention. Can you believe the first thing he said was he wasn’t going to do the talk he had planned. He spent the next twenty minutes of his sixty-minute time slot talking about himself! His info, when he got to it, was good. But we lost one-third of his time! His problem wasn’t his planning—it was his execution!
Ram Charan and Larry Bossidy in their book Execution say, “Execution . . . is a discipline of its own.” Here are four ideas that can help you and your team practice the discipline of execution in a way that makes sense, gets the job done, and doesn’t make us feel like failures.
I have a friend who was a naval navigator. He once told me, “Navigating is easy. As long as you know where you are leaving from and where you are going to everything in between is fluid.” Fluid planning has the why, the reason for our plan, as its starting point. Its ending point is what we want to accomplish. If our why is strong and our what is appropriate everything that lies between is the fluid plan.
One of the major breakthrough events in my life was when I accepted the idea that consistency is not king. And that’s not an easy idea to accept. We’ve all been told the fable of the tortoise and the hare—right? But life doesn’t come at us consistently. Life comes in waves, in fits and starts. Inconsistent action gives us permission to let our energies and focus meet the demands of life while returning us again and again to the action necessary to achieve results. Inconsistent action reduces the guilt that paralyzes us and which can eventually so demotivate us that we quit.
Reality is hurtful because it’s the force we’re always having to adjust to. Reality refuses to leave us alone. It interferes with our plans (which are obviously great because we made them). The hurt of reality, however, is primarily felt in relation to our unwillingness to accept its presence. The more we resist reality the more pain it applies. Instead of viewing reality as the enemy accept reality as a constructive guide. Reality rewards us when we work with it and redirects us when we get out of sync.
A plan is an act of courage in and of itself. But, as soon as we make a plan public, from the moment we take the first step, fear climbs onto the seat beside us. Fearful courage accepts the fact that fear and courage are companions. So when you feel the fear creeping up on you look around to see where courage is. Courage is not the absence of fear, it is acting in spite of it.
Flawless execution is probably the mythic unicorn of strategic planning. I pray these four ideas encourage you to keep on executing your plans for the good results you want to accomplish.
Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work. —Peter Drucker
4 Traits of Spiritual Mentors
Being a spiritual mentor does not equal being a religious leader. Mentors are not necessarily managing the direction of the church itself. The reality is they are leaders, but maybe look different from what you expect. It’s important to know the traits of spiritual mentors, these individuals are valuable in the development of the disciples within your congregation.
Here's a more accurate picture of what a spiritual mentor looks like:
Trait # 1 - Suggestive Guidance
Many times spiritual mentors live a life that is unique to others, and may not follow the rules that society places on them. Overall these type of leaders do not operate under the assumption that others should do life in the same way, rather they live life based on principles and understandings that may be countercultural. The value of these mentors is that they have discovered unique practices that have allowed them to understand and relate to God in ways that may differ from the status quo.
Trait # 2 - The “High Road” Less Traveled
This trait of a successful spiritual mentor is that they choose to live a life based on positive thinking. The empowerment they get from understanding who God is allows them to understand a level of joy that is based on the fruits of the spirit. Rather than living a life of happiness based on objective worldly treasures, they like to surround themselves in an atmosphere that is positive rather than negative.
Trait #3 - Lifting Others Up
Spiritual mentors live to lift others up constantly. They find ways to take individuals who are struggling in life and allow them to become successful based on goals, skills, and talents. Spiritual mentors find fulfillment in witnessing others become successful, and celebrating their accomplishments.
Trait #4 - Serving Others First
Spiritual mentors live out the passage in Mark 10:45, where Jesus says "for even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many." They live a life that is based on servant leadership, looking for opportunities to take care of the needs of others.
Spiritual mentoring comes down to specific characteristics that will lead to positive spiritual development for those they are mentoring. These characteristics come from years of life experience, and that means these folks may not be CEOs, presidents of their companies, commanding officers in the military. These individuals may come from very humble upbringings, living a life of low income status, and/or practicing simplicity in their life. Being able to identify these diamonds in the rough can be difficult, but understanding these virtuous traits will bear fruit if you are able to discover them!
Who are the people in your church who are already spiritual mentors? Who are those you can develop to become one?
How does your church make decisions? Who makes the decisions? How timely are decisions made?
What we experience in many churches is that making decisions is difficult and that many churches do not have a process that helps them. In fact, the decision-making process is so poor that I now ask churches, "What is your process for making decisions?" Most often these leaders do not have an answer.
Here's a tree to help you and your church make better, more timely decisions:
Step 1: Consider Your Core Values
Your core values are the foundation that gives your church its sense of individual identity, provides direction, and are foundation upon which decisions are made. Run the decision through your core values. Your goal is to determine the consistency of the decision with your core values. The values decision answers the question can we say yes to this decision? Ask these two questions:
1. Is this decision consistent with and connected to our core values?
Step 2: Consider Your Mission
Now you are looking at how this decision connects with your church's mission, that statement that describes why your church exists. Your mission statement answers the question should we say yes to this decision?
Step 3: Does the Decision Dovetail With Your Vision?
Your vision is what you wish to see come to being in the next few years. Ask the question: does this decision contribute to accomplishing our vision? At this step you are answering the final question of will we say yes to this decision?
How many ministry job descriptions does your church have written?
Whoa! That’s a boring topic. My experience is that few churches have job descriptions written for more than their hired staff. But spending the time to write job descriptions for all your ministry leaders may be one of the best investments your church can make for your sanity, health and the well-being of your church.
Because churches are volunteer organizations we suggest using the name role descriptions over job descriptions. This name change helps people understand the volunteer idea a little more clearly.
The role description is your basic blueprint for success for every important, ongoing job that you want to get done. Here’s five ways that Ministry Role Descriptions will help your church:
This post is by Stan Granberg, the Kairos Executive Director.
"At what point did pastoral ministry become so draining, so challenging, that a gifted veteran would question his ability to go the distance or cause a bright and talented newcomer to consider dropping out of professional ministry?" Lilly Foundation, Sustaining Pastoral Excellence, p. 3
Today’s pastors often feel…
scared they aren't relevant…
scared they can’t keep up the pace…
like they’re leading alone.
As a result, the best people often shy away from professional ministry or they burnout and leave ministry as a vocation, sometimes even leaving God in the process.
If you’re a minister, a church leader, a friend of a minister, or a church member, you owe it to your minister, yourself, and your church to help your minister engage in healthy soul care.
Recently I was blessed to be at a meeting of church planter executives where Alan Ahlgrim presented five levels of pastoral soul care. Every pastor should have plans for the first four levels and options for level five.
1. Friend to FriendClose friends provide regular, personal interaction where they can speak into the pastor’s soul with love and support.
2. MentoringEveryone runs into situations that challenge them beyond their current level of ability or maturity. Mentors provide pastors the investment of experience and expertise to help them meet the challenges of pastoral work.
3. Sharpening ExperiencesThese are retreats, seminars, and training events where pastors can learn from experts and each other to sharpen the myriad of skills pastors may be called to perform.
4. Covenant GroupsThese are small groups of fellow leaders who commit from one to three years together to hold each other close, allowing them to reveal their fears, their doubts, and their missteps without fear of repercussions.
Covenant groups are not about fixing. They are about listening carefully, asking clear questions, and keeping each other out of the ditch.
5. Psychological InterventionSometimes despite the best precautions, but most often because levels one through four were not exercised, pastors reach crisis where professional help and intervention is needed.
God has provided exceptional people who can help pastors in deep distress regain balance and wholeness to their life and ministry.
Share these five levels with your church leaders and pastor. You may save a life gifted for God’s glory.
Great team builders are great volunteer recruiters. Churches are volunteer based organizations. No matter how great the staff or well staffed a church is its ability to sustain itself and accomplish its mission is dependent upon a large base of engaged volunteers. And perhaps even more challenging, the larger the church the larger the percentage of volunteers it needs. This makes developing a strong volunteer culture a critical factor for growth and health.
Here are five practices of a great volunteer recruiter:
What do you look for to identify potential leaders? What are the "tells" that indicate this person is ready to make a move to lead others in the name of Jesus?
The Kairos SoCal Multiplying Church cohort spent a meeting looking at how to raise up leaders in our churches. We invited Eric Metcalf, campus pastor for the Lincoln Park campus of Community Christian Church in Chicago, IL to walk us through their training process. Eric gave us a focused, usable process for training leaders through an apprenticeship model.
Community Christian identifies apprentices by looking for 3 characteristics:
obert J. Clinton, one of my teachers and thought mentors at Fuller Theological Seminary drilled into my thinking the idea that developing leaders is both a central purpose and a critical skill of leaders. Yet it's disturbing how few churches and church leaders I observe practicing either.
This month five churches met in our SoCal Multiplying Church cohort to work on Developing A Leadership Pipeline. One question we addressed was how do we identify emerging leaders?
Drawing upon some of Bobby Clinton's material here is a quick tool set of ideas you can use to identify emerging leaders in your church:
1. Acts. Look for men and women, particularly those in their late teens and early twenties, who do leader acts. These may be simple things such as calling a group's attention to the activity at hand, organizing people, or giving a nudge to someone that engages them more deeply in the life of the church. Leadership acts are identifying markers of leadership potential. When you see someone doing leadership acts regularly you probably have an emerging leader at hand.
2. Tasks. Once you spot a potential leader the next step is to give that leader a leadership task to accomplish. A leadership task is a short activity that has a defined beginning, end, and a specific purpose to accomplish. A leadership task is not just doing something. It must be about leading others to do something. This is critical. Remember, leaders don't just do things; leaders lead people. The leadership task is not nearly as critical as how the potential leader addresses the task, engages others in doing the task, and how they process what they learn about leading others from the task. As a leader developer you should be able to observe the leader as they engage this task and once it's completed talk with them about it. How did they think it went? What did they observe, learn, gain from a leadership perspective? It's this debriefing conversation that turns the leadership task into a learning experience that helps potential leaders grow into actual leaders.
3. Stretch Assignments. Finally, if your emerging leader is making progress give him or her a stretch assignment. A stretch assignment is a longer, more complex expectation than a leadership task. A stretch assignment will often give the emerging leader responsibility for solving some sort of problem, like "would you organize a service project for our local school" or "would you lead a team to do follow up on guests from our Easter activities?" The emerging leader will have to evaluate the problem, come up with a solution, organize people to carry out the plan, and report on the outcomes. Stretch assignments tests an emerging leader's capabilities, skills at leading a team, and their willingness to take responsibility for something important.
With these 3 leadership items you can identify, test, and train emerging leaders who have the potential to be vital, life-giving leaders in your church.
You've probably done it again, made some new year's resolutions: lose a little weight, eat a little better, exercise a little more. It's time to do the same for your church. But before you launch into the generic church resolutions (add more people, gain more contributions, improve Bible classes, etc.) here's a quick tool that will give you a better perspective on what you might ought to give priority to.
This effective exercise was developed by Tom Paterson after whom the Paterson Center, a strategic planning training group, was named. It's called the 4 Helpful Lists; this exercise will help you identify the things you need to do to prioritize them over all the things you could do. You can use this little jewel at almost anytime: to set new year's resolutions, to evaluate an event or program, or just to get better perspective on what is happening.
Get your paper out and draw 5 columns. Starting from the left and working right you'll answer these four questions leaving the last column for perspectives gained.
Column 1: What's Right? We're somehow wired to focus on what's wrong rather than what's right. Get a positive jump and try to come up with as much as you can that's right about the situation, event, or current state. My rule of thumb is try to populate the what's right column with more bullet points than any of the other columns. As you plan your goal is to optimize what is right.
Column 2: What's Wrong? Now go to the what's wrong. Be specific and look for causes. Don't just put "people did not attend." Look for possible causes as to why they did not attend: "people did not attend because I did not give them enough advance notice to get this event on their calendars." Your goal is to eliminate what is wrong.
Column 3: What's Missing? This is perhaps the most difficult question to answer because we often do not see what is missing but we sure do feel it. Step back to gain some perspective altitude on what you're reviewing. Here's a few questions to help you get to what is missing. What kind of questions did people ask? Where did we (those organizing) feel a bit lost? Was there an obvious "oops" moment? The goal is to add what is missing.
Column 4: What's Confused? Isn't that a great question! What's confused? What didn't make sense? What did people not understand? How was clarity lost? The goal is to clarify to what is confused.
Column 5: Perspective Learnings. This is the goldmine moment of this exercise. You've been working at ground level with these four questions. Now spring up to the 5,000 foot level. Look across the column and ask yourself, "what am I learning about this?" My rule of thumb here is to force myself to identify at least four of these learning points. Here's some examples: We're scratching an itch our people feel. This is a good idea but we're not ready to implement it yet. To be done well this activity needs someone who will be responsible for it over the next year.
Making New Year's resolutions is good and helpful. I pray these Four Helpful Lists will help you put a plan to your resolutions.