Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Call it a self-fulfilling prophecy if you want, but Nelson Searcy, writing in "Fusion", states that his work with churches of all sizes and types have proven this over and over. I have also found this true not only in churches I work with, but also my own church, Elevation.
If churches are faithful to prepare a warm welcome for the guests God has given (and those who will come), then He will be faithful to bless those churches.
So, how do you "prepare?"
Searcy thinks it all starts in pre-service preparation: a series of actions he calls "from the street to the seat." The pre-service is a church's first opportunity for interaction with everyone who sets foot on the property. The mission of the pre-service is to make every effort to take your guest's guard down, to make them feel welcome, and to put a smile on their face. He finds four initial areas of contact through which you can influence your guests during the pre-service:
- Greeted - welcomed with a smile
- Directed - Simply and politely shown and taken to where they need to go
- Treated - Shown respect, and happily surprised with full-service attention
- Seated - led to comfortable, appropriate seats
Everything done in preparation for a church service works together to represent God's character to unchurched people. They may not know immediately why they like your church or why the feel comfortable, but it's because you've done your work to set them at ease before they knew they were coming.
Tomorrow: The Clock is Ticking...
Monday, March 29, 2010
Andy Stanley once said "The Church is a family expecting guests." I believe that is true. This Sunday is Easter, one of the highest attended Sundays of the year. Is your "family" ready?
Have you prepared for the arrival of guests and all that is to follow?
Your staff and congregation need to know how to:
- Serve guests with grace and hospitality
- Internalize the importance of being welcoming to everyone
- Reflect God's character in the way you treat guests
- Encourage the continual return of guests
Nelson Searcy, pastor of Journey Church in New York City, and Mark Waltz, Connections Pastor at Granger Community Church in South Bend IN, have both authored books that will help church leaders understand the importance of creating Guest Services practices that will not only welcome guests to your church but help them become regular participants.
This week I will be looking at their books - Searcy's "Fusion" and Waltz's "First Impressions" - to help your church understand and apply key principles in welcoming guests and members.
Family's coming - let's get ready!
Friday, March 26, 2010
Upon concluding a successful training event for a guest services team recently, I conferred on everyone participating the title of CXO (Chief Experience Officer) and an honorary GsD (Doctor of Guestology). While it was a light-hearted recognition of the group's hard work, it's really something you should consider in your organization.
Tom Peters, writing in "The Little Big Things", coined the title CFIO used above. It's a great action to take, because you should spend a lot of time and energy thinking through beginnings very carefully. Invest lots of time, money, and training in the creating and managing of first impressions.
Beginnings are overwhelmingly important - and you only begin once.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Author Tom Peters, writing in "The Little Big Things", has these comments about First Impressions:
We need constant reminding that first impressions matter - a lot. In his typical hyperbole, Peters goes beyond first impressions to the
The oft-quoted claim of Fox News' Roger Ailes is that we have 7 seconds to make a first impression. He gives this advice:
- Amp up your attitude - square your shoulders, lean into the conversation, and make sure your eyes shine
- Give your message a mission - if you've got something you want to get from the interaction, stay on message.
- Recognize "face value" - engage in your conversation by being in the moment and focusing on the recipient(s) of your message
The bottom line? Pay mindful attention to how you engage - it's as important (or maybe more important) that content.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
I'm reading his latest book, "The Essential Engineer", and this sentence stopped me cold:
He was writing about the continual change in automobile design; how we can predict the changes coming in auto design by looking at what annoys us today or what features we wish it had or think it should have.
What a brilliant, simple statement!
Now apply it to ChurchWorld. Are there things that aren't working in your church? By identifying what is still lacking in your church today, is it possible to predict what will be standard in your church tomorrow?
What are you designing for tomorrow that is a correction to today?
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Here are some facts worthy of the Guinness Book of World Records:
- Arthur Guinness founded the first Sunday schools in Ireland, fought against dueling, and chaired the board of a hospital for the poor
- Henry Grattan Guinness, grandson of brewery founder Arthur Guinness, was a Christian leader of such impact that he was ranked with Dwight L. Moody and Charles Spurgeon in his day. He has been called the Billy Graham of the nineteenth century
- In the 1890s, Rupert Guinness, future head of the brewery, received five million pounds from his father on his wedding day. Shortly after, he moved into a house in the slums and launched a series of programs that served the poor
- A Guinness chief medical officer, Dr. John Lumsden, personally visited thousands of Dublin homes in 1900 and used what he learned to help the company fight disease, squalor, and ignorance
- During World War I, Guinness guaranteed all of its employees who served in uniform that their jobs would be waiting for them when they came home. Guinness also paid half salaries to the family of each man who served
- A Guinness worker during the 1920s enjoyed full medical and dental care, massage services, reading rooms, subsidized meals, a company-funded pension, educational benefits, sports facilities, free concerts, lectures and entertainment, and a guaranteed two pints of Guinness beer a day
If you are seeing some intriguing stories there, then you need to read Stephen Mansfield’s “The Search for God and Guinness” to get the full background on the wonderful story of the Guinness legacy – not just the beer, but just as importantly, the family, philanthropy, and vibrant faith that founder Arthur Guinness instilled in the company that lives on even today.
Guinness is one of the most successful brands of beer in the world today. Guinness is brewed at one of the largest breweries in the world, and consumed at a rate of more than 10 million pints every day.
But the book isn’t just about the beer – as a matter of fact, it’s probably the least important part of the book. “God and Guinness” is really about the Guinness family legacy and culture. It is the Guinness culture that for nearly two centuries changed the lives of Guinness workers, transformed poverty in Dublin, and inspired other companies to understand that care for their employees was their most important work. It was the Guinness culture of faith and kindness and generosity that moved men to seek out ways to serve their fellow men.
Just like all the ingredients going into a pint of Guinness are distilled to create the final product, the maxims of the Guinness experience can be distilled:
- Discern the ways of God for life and business
- Think in terms of generations yet to come
- Whatever else you do, do at least one thing very well
- Master the facts before you act
- Invest in those you would have invest in you
“The Search for God and Guinness” is a great book if you are interested in learning more about the influence for good a family – and a company – can have when they put their mind and heart to it.
This book was reviewed as a part of Thomas Nelson Book Sneeze program.
Monday, March 22, 2010
What if you chose both?
I first came across this idea in Jim Collins' book "Good to Great." Since then, many writers have used the phrase "both/and" to refer to decision making that references both issues in a choice. Alan Webber, writing in "Rules of Thumb" states it this way:
One of the skills that defines an entrepreneur and an innovator is the capacity to generate new lines of sight. That mean looking at problems along a new dimension. It means rejecting old either/or choices and finding new both/and combinations.
It's like the game of chess. Most of the plays involve moving pieces forward or backward or sideways. But the bishop? It's a game changer because it moves on the diagonal. Now you have the ability to move across and up on the board at the same time. You have changed the geometry of choice with one move.
How are you going to put into practice the skill of making "both/and" decisions in your organization today?
Friday, March 19, 2010
Thought not huge basketball fans, my wife and I usually complete tournament brackets for the fun of it. We started the kick back in the early 80s when we lived in Louisville and the UofL - Kentucky rivalry was at its zenith.
So, after supper the other night our son joined in and we completed our brackets and posted them on the fridge.
After the first full day of the games, my brackets are broken. When a 14 seed beats a 3, and a 13 beats a 4, its not going to be a good day for your brackets. Which makes a good illustration for this closing post on systems thinking.
A central tenet of systems thinking is that the components of the system are all interrelated. Therefore, a change in one component will ripple through the entire system. The Georgetown loss wrecked my Elite 8, and the tournament's first games are only half over.
But that's just a game - what about the systems in your church? Jim Herrington, Mike Bonem, and James Furr, writing in "Leading Congregational Change" find that: "Many times leaders underestimate the complexity of congregational life. They want to have a quick and simple explanation for every issue, and intervene directly and decisively. In reality, any given issue is influenced by all of the actions, attitudes, decision, people, and artifacts that constitute the organization".
The full consequences of changes in your congregational are often hidden, and will not become evident till a later date. If you are leading your congregation, there will be change. Don't take the easy route and look for the obvious, visible effects. Probe deeper for broader and unintended impacts of a change. The result will be a more accurate and richer understanding of just what is really going on in your congregational system.
It also may help you in your next bracket selection.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Not enough staff.
A huge task.
Sound like your church?
Hopefully not, but that was the situation that Nehemiah faced as he stood at the broken down walls of Jerusalem and wept. Fortunately, Nehemiah had a unique ability to solve the complex problems that faced him. His methods illustrate two powerful elements of systems thinking that every leader in ChurchWorld should possess. As you begin to understand these elements, they will help you solve the problems you face as a leader.
Nehemiah's ability to solve complex problems grew out of his manner of seeing the problems - as a systems thinker. Peter Senge, one of the early proponents of systems thinking, said "Systems thinking is a discipline for seeing wholes. It is a framework for seeing interrelationships rather than things, for seeing patterns of change rather than static 'snapshots' ".
Two elements of systems thinking made a difference for Nehemiah. He saw what Senge labeled "the subtle interconnectedness that gives living systems their unique character," and he saw "the " 'structures' that underlie complex situations".
The result? He was so successful in his work that, when people saw it, "they realized that this work had been done with the help of God" (Neh. 6:16). Each step of the way, Nehemiah had sought the Lord for direction. God answered those prayers by providing favor, strength, and wisdom.
How will you use systems thinking to "rebuild the walls" today?
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
The biblical story of Jonah is a perfect illustration. Jonah refused to carry God's message of salvation to Ninevah. He ran in the opposite direction. His decision to disobey God threatened the lives of some unsuspecting sailors. They were fighting for their lives, with a storm about to sink their ship. The sailors wanted "to find out who was responsible for this calamity" (Jonah 1:7).
The source of the problem? A man they had never previously met and a decision he had made before the journey had even begun. Jonah had become a part of their system, and all their lives were dramatically affected.
What a great illustration! The root causes of destructive problems may be impossible to pinpoint, or opportunities for growth may be overlooked, if we fail to think in systems terms. In ChurchWorld, systems thinking reveals that seemingly isolated decisions reverberate to affect staff, members, stakeholders, and people within our influence who aren't even a part of our church - yet.
Congregations are spiritual and human social systems that are complex, connected, and changing. If leaders fail to think in systems terms they will not - and cannot - make wise decisions.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
One of the most beautiful word pictures in the Bible speaks to this organic system as a metaphor for how the believer should grow and reproduce. In John 15:1-8 Jesus talks about the vine, branches and fruit - an integrated biological system in which the fruit is the abundant product of life that is derived from the nutrients in the soil.
The branch receives its life from the vine; believers must depend on the life of Christ within to find their spiritual life. The fruit nourishes other and contains the seeds of its own continued life. The life of Christ nourishes us, and reproduces His life in others.
If any part of the system malfunctions, the byproduct of fruit will fail to appear.
Jesus chose us and appointed us in order to go and bear fruit (15:16). As leaders, we have the dual responsibility of bearing fruit ourselves and helping others do the same. We must be more than faithful; we must be fruitful.
Are you a fruitful leader?
Monday, March 15, 2010
Organizing and implementing systems are the best way to accomplish tasks and achieve goals. Effective leaders know that. But we are at best only imitating God, who has a passion for order and harmony, as reflected in the verses above.
The body metaphor above portrays the church as an interconnected organism that works as an organized system of distinct and unique parts whose origin and unity is in Christ.
If God is a systems thinker, in what ways can you, having been created in His image and likeness, develop this same skill?
Friday, March 12, 2010
The last couple of weeks, I have had an intermittent "check engine" light come on. It stays on for a few hours, maybe a day, then goes off. There is nothing wrong with the performance of the car - at least on the surface. The only thing noticeable has been a gradual decrease in gas mileage-maybe a mile per gallon or so.
Still, I want to make sure my traveling office doesn't strand me hours from home, so I dropped by my trusty mechanic shop, Autoworks Unlimited, earlier this week for a quick check. With the level of service that you don't see much anymore, Andrew interrupted his work, picked up his code reader, and gave it a quick check.
The diagnosis? An oxygen sensor is shorting out at times, triggering the check engine light. The sensor tells the engine what the mixture of oxygen and gas should be to run most efficiently. When it doesn't work right, the engine doesn't run like it was designed. It's not a big deal, but something that needs attention eventually.
Do you wish that your church had a "check engine" light? Something that would pop up when even the slightest little matter wasn't like it was supposed to be?
Your church is much more complex than even the most advanced engine in today's cars. A church is a dynamic system of relationships between and among people. It is an organic system, composed of people created by God - people created uniquely in just the way He wanted them to be, expressing their gifts according to a unique calling.
As a leader, we must realize that everyone on our team is a crucial part of the system, and we must help each individual discover his or her role and fulfill it. The leader has to recognize when the "check engine" light of a team member comes on, and help diagnose the problem.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
...with a vengeance! His new book "The Little Big Things" was just released yesterday. Normally I would read all of a book before I reviewed it, but this is one that won't wait. I didn't even make it past the first "chapter":
It's All About the Restrooms!
Before I go further, the subtitle of the book is "163 Ways to Pursue Excellence"; it contains short chapters of just a few pages each. Peters is a self-proclaimed sucker for little, comprehensible, compelling nuggets of life experiences that represent BIG and Potent Ideas. And he delivers - page after page - with "The Little Big Things". Back to the restrooms...
To Peters, a clean and attractive restroom is the best "WE CARE" sign a retail shop or professional office can can have.
Clean restrooms are representative of the "little" things that make BIG differences. If you are taking care of your restrooms so that customers notice, then how much more will you be taking care of other, more visible things?
On the other hand, what kind of message are you sending if you neglect a "necessary" part of our daily lives?
Think about it - and make it a point to tend to your restrooms today!
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
A huge difference exists between a legacy and an inheritance. Anyone can leave an inheritance. An inheritance is something you leave to your family or loved ones. A legacy is something you leave in your family and loved ones. Here is what Maxwell had to day in comparing the two:
- Something tangible you give to others
- Temporarily brings them happiness
- Eventually fades as it is spent
- Your activity may or not may pay off
- Something tangible you place in others
- Permanently transforms them
- Lives on long after you die
- Your activity becomes achievement
What would you rather leave: an inheritance or a legacy?
Monday, March 8, 2010
Preparation for the weekend event included hours of research, interviews, and conversations with church leaders and local officials. Our team sifted though all this information, prepared an agenda reflecting the assignment given to us by the church, and proceeded with the weekend.
As we went through the first several hours, thought kept popping into my head: Collect the dots so you can connect the dots. After jotting it down, I forgot about it until the weekend was over and I began reviewing my notes. As luck would have it, I was also revisiting a great book from 2009, Alan Webber's "Rules of Thumb." Once again, while looking for something else, I came across the phrase above. It was an appropriate footnote to the past weekend's events, and I wanted to highlight some of Webber's thoughts on "Context":
Information is a commodity but context creates value.
What we’re looking for from others – and what we should hone as our own capability – is a convincing, compelling vision of how the world works.
What’s valuable is having your own point of view and having the confidence to express it. Anything else is available 24/7 on the Web and everywhere else – which makes it worthless.
Context is how we all add value. But how do you develop the practice to know what you know, to see how you see the world?
The answer is that context comes to those who develop their way of seeing and making sense of the world.
Context only comes with practice.
- If you don’t watch the news regularly and get into a shouting match with the TV set, you’re not practicing. They’re not telling you the news; they’re telling you how they see the news. You’re entitled to tell them back.
- If you don’t check multiple web sites for news and analysis daily and register your profound disagreement with their takes on the events of the day, you’re not developing your own context. Your job is to use their reports as a whetstone to sharpen your own analyses.
- If you don’t clip one or more newspapers – either the paper or electronic versions – and then work at assembling the clips into your own take on how the world works, you’re not building your mental muscles.
The point of the exercise is to collect the dots so you can connect the dots.
Become a context creator – someone who can connect the dots in ways that make sense, provide insight, deliver meaning, and produce ways of seeing the world that leads to new solutions that work.
No matter how many raw facts you know, they’re only as valuable as the context within which you put them. That’s why context is more important than content and always will be.
Our team succeeded in creating context this weekend. Yes, there was a lot of information. But God honored the process, and the result was excitement about potential - not contentment with the status quo.
Friday, March 5, 2010
Of course, asking the right question is often a challenge. It's easy to ask a question that triggers an argument, demands analysis, expects a defensive reply or begs for an explanation. These kinds of questions may be interesting, but they lack power.
Powerful questions are those that evoke a choice for accountability and commitment. They are questions that take us to requests, offers, declarations, forgiveness, confession, gratitude, and welcome: all of which are memorable and have a transformative power.
Questions create the space for something new to emerge.
What questions will you be asking today?
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Do more with less.
Short pithy sayings are always good for a moment's pause. Most of them have at least some element of truth to them. They sound good, are mostly logical, and hey, maybe even worth a shot.
Then Seth Godin comes along and messes with my brain big-time:
If trying harder isn't working because you're already trying as hard as you can, maybe it's time to try different.
If it's not working, harder might not be the answer.
What do you need to try different today?
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
For all the hype and hoopla, to me the single most important aspect of the Games is the unique skill sets it takes for each athlete to become a world-class participant in their sport. For many, that means years of preparation and practice for a one-time shot at a medal. Most don’t ever get a chance to medal, yet all prepare as if they were already a champion.
In other words, they have locked away in their minds a preferred vision of the future that has them accepting a gold medal. That vision keeps them going day after day, month after month, up early and late in practice.
Church leadership teams don’t compete for a gold medal, but their reward is much more important: changed lives, as members develop into loving, growing disciples. That’s an outcome worth working for!
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
- The case for a cluttered inbox
- Don't even think about calling
- If you have to have a meeting, first, drink water
- Using an A-B-C list
- An amazing executive assistant and the daily memo
- Work from home
- Keep some air in your schedule
- Capture ideas from everywhere
- Delegate sooner rather than later
In a country whose citizens work longer and get more done than anyone else, no one is more productive than entrepreneurs. To get inside the mind of the super-efficient, the magazine interviewed successful entrepreneurs in various industries around the country.
Want to check it out? The magazine is on the newsstands now - look here in a few days for online content. I'm willing to bet that you will pick up at least two or three ideas you can put into practice immediately.
Monday, March 1, 2010
Athletes who participate in the Olympics surely have these words in their mind. For many of them, the journey for the chance of 47 seconds of glory has taken years of dedication and practice. Along the way, they have endured pain, inconvenience, and trials, along with the positive feelings of a sense of accomplishment and knowledge that they represent the ultimate pinnacle of performance in their chosen sport.
But if that is all it is, what follows after those 47 seconds of glory? What does a speed skater do after he can no longer participate in the sport at the level required for Olympic participation? What does it take to go beyond the highest point in your physical development?
In Latin, the word "clarius" represents intelligence and clarity of mind. If an athlete frames his physical gifts with clarity, then his Olympic endeavors are a beginning, not an end.
As leaders, we have to have the same mindset. Most leaders spend their lives driving decisions, directing resources, and deploying leaders without the vantage point of substantial clarity (Mancini).
It's one thing to aspire to Olympic greatness by dedicating your formative years to achieving the pinnacle of success in your sport. It's another to step up on the podium, receiving recognition for being the best. What's next?
Those with clarity know.