Saturday, February 27, 2010
Friday, February 26, 2010
The concepts of clarity are a regular part of my conversations with churches. In the last week, I have talked about clarity with large and small churches; rural and urban churches; traditional and contemporary churches. Clarity transcends all these groupings as a necessary ingredient of successful churches.
In the midst of all this conversation about clarity, a comment was made to me that literally stopped me in my tracks:
This astute and wise church leader was telling me that our words - verbally - were very important in his context, maybe even more so than images and other visual elements. He demonstrated this the next day in a powerful, passionate sermon that was a masterpiece of the spoken word. He schooled me though the use of:
- The dynamics of voice
- Pacing and tempo
- Eliminating verbal graffiti
Leaders who communicate with clarity radiate passion, conviction, and enthusiasm - and people respond.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
The leader most needs followers. When those are lacking, the best ideas, the strongest will, the most wonderful smile have no effect.
Leader: Who is following you?
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
What about your organization? Do your values so permeate your organization that rules are minimalized?
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Seth Godin, in his recent book "Linchpin", writes about the myth of Project-Specific Passion. According to Godin, people with passion look for ways to make things happen.
What are you making happen this week?
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Step near the front of the aisle, and all the cases light up instantly with bright LED lighting, displaying rows and rows of choices. Motion sensors activate the lights when customers are present; if no one is there, the lights go out.
What looked like poor planning and marketing is actually brilliant efficiency at work. LED lights consume far less power, turn on instantly, are very tolerant of the cool temperatures, and have a longer life than any other type of light available. The food was there all the time; it just needed my presence to be noticed.
I think your community is like that, too. Along with the great needs in your community, there are great resources already there.
All that's needed is your presence - just show up.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Does your church want to make an impact on your community in a meaningful way?
Listen to their story first.
Don't rush in with your plans and dreams and schemes for what you want to accomplish. First, you ask what's the story? What are the real issues, the real problems, the real needs?
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Redeemer City to City is the name of their actions to help church planters. Their website has tons of helpful resources that city church planters (and others) will find useful.
One such resource is a document titled "A Vision for our Cities", which you ought to read in its entirety. Here are a few excerpts:
As the main purveyor of influence to surrounding communities, the city is where culture is formed. The Christian desire to shape culture with the gospel therefore requires Christians to live and be active in the city.
There are many reasons why we ought to be concerned about the city, not the least of which are the following:
- The cities are where people are and increasingly will be
- The cities are key centers of influence culturally, spiritually, and in nearly every other way
- The city is God's invention, part of God's plan and purpose, and as such should not be regarded as evil. Life in a city is our eventual destiny - or at least our eternal destiny will revolve around a city
If our intent is to change or have an effect on a city, we have to engage at many different levels.
- We have to proclaim Christ to individuals and communities
- We have to "act justly and to love mercy" (Micah 6:8)
- We have to engage culture
- We have to help Christians apply their faith in all that they do
Repeatedly throughout Scriptures, we see God's concern for cities and the people within them, both those inhabited and dominated by His people, like Jerusalem, and those that were not, such as Nineveh and Babylon.
God is just as concerned today about cities as He was back then, and therefore so should we.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
I'm re-reading "Street Signs" again in anticipation of a weekend visit to the Bronx Bethany Church.
At one time in history, cities were defined by place: at the mouth or junction of a river, near the foot of a mountain, or on a natural bay on the coast. Today, even though they may have started that way, cities are defined by their roles and functions. Consider the following:
- Political cities: Washington, DC; New Delhi
- Commercial cities: New York, Los Angeles
- Cultural cities: San Francisco, Rio de Janero, Paris, Mumbai
While they all once functioned as industrial cities, they now are more recognized by their functional DNA than the location they were built. Some cities have multiple roles, and some, like Monaco, Vatican City and Singapore double as a nation.
Cities also have personalities. Each city has a larger DNA - a personality type. Large, world-class cities (population of one million or more and international significance and influence) have multiple DNAs withing the larger function of their primary DNA. On top of all this, cities constantly undergo dramatic change.
What is the church in the city to do? Bakke, a student of cities all his life, has come to see them as prophetic in their culture:
If you want to know what your suburb, small town, or rural area will look like in 2o years, look at the nearest major city to you.
Cities are the engines of change in this modern urbanized world. The urbanization of the city urbanizes the communities around it.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Elevation Church is celebrating its fourth anniversary by loving the city of Charlotte in very tangible ways: a goal of Elevation volunteers giving at least one hour each for a total of 5,000 hours serving in the community.
Pastor Steven Furtick spoke powerfully in worship Sunday from Jeremiah 29:4-7. Some key thoughts:
- We exist for the good of this city
- Churches should be known for loving their cities more than any other entity there
- Love - because God first loved you
- Wherever you are, God put you there for a purpose
The typical responses of churches?
Elevation Church is choosing TRANSFORMATION instead.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
I choose to take the optimistic road and say this DOES NOT make us old! After all, we are already grandparents to Jack, so now we are just doubling our blessings. And, we still have one son at home - a junior in high school - and a daughter who is a senior in college.
With all that said, our marriage relationship is changing. Yes, we will be doting grandparents; yes, we will still be involved in our two older sons and daughter-in-law's lives; yes, we have college events for our daughter and high school stuff for our son. But slowly, surely, we are discovering that we are moving into a season that is more partner focused than child focused.
Just what will that mean? Maybe some of the following:
- Maximizing individual strengths for the benefit of both of us
- Finding time to be companions
- Understanding that compatibility doesn't always mean agreement
- Continually adjusting to each other
- Striving to be partner focused
- Share rather than divide
- Make creative use of conflict
- Work hard at communicating
- Commitment to continued growth
So here it is Valentine's Day Eve (I just created another holiday) and I am so thankful that I have the blessing of being married to Anita and sharing it with her. I am grateful for our first half of marriage and celebrations, but I'm excited about our second half!
Friday, February 12, 2010
- 180 million cards will be exchanged, with 50% of those purchased in the last six days
- 23.8 pounds - per capita consumption of candy by Americans in 2008
- 187 million roses were produced for Valentines Day in 2009
It is what it is, but to just focus on the tangible "gifts" of love is missing the point:
God is the love you are looking for
This is the central point in one chapter of authors John and Stasi Eldredge's latest book "Love & War." Subtitled "Finding the marriage you've dreamed of", it is a very personal and open journey of twenty-five years of marriage.
The book is an ongoing narrative with each of the authors contributing their feelings and thoughts as they reflect on their journey together. Surprisingly candid, often funny, but always instructive, the Eldredges chart out a path that readers can apply to their marriages.
Central to the book is the admonition that marriage is not a bed of roses; it is a struggle of two individuals who have to submit to each other and fight together for what God has called them into. And for me, that's the greatest lesson of this book, referred to in the quote above and illustrated further with these words from John and Stasi:
We live in a love story. We are created for romance and we have an insatiable capacity for it. God gave us such a heart; it was one of his first gifts to us. Our love story starts with God.
If you are looking for a gift for Valentine's Day, the greatest gift you can give to your marriage is a real relationship with Jesus Christ. This is the kindest thing you could ever do for the people in your life - to have somewhere you can turn, someone who loves you and understands. More words from John and Stasi:
...you must understand you are not a well and your spouse is not a well. You are both leaky buckets in search of a well.
God's love is that well. Turn to it often, and drink deeply for a marriage that will honor God's gift to each of you.
"Love & War" is a powerful, personal, and profound journey of two individuals who love God deeply, and therefore love each other deeply. Their story and journey provide an excellent road map for any couple wanting to grow together toward God and each other.
This was book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Israel Houghton surprised Pastor Steven, showing up to give an mini-concert. Craig Groeschel of LifeChurch spoke powerfully, giving honor and advice to Pastor Steven. Here are a few points he spoke to honor Pastor Steven:
- Potentially the greatest voice in your generation
- The things no one sees result in what everyone wants
- Rock solid marriage
- Anointed and highly favored by God
- You show biblical honor to others
- Radically generous as individual
- Deep reverence to the priority of the Word of God
- Integrity to go the distance
- Audacious faith
Here is the advice Craig gave to Pastor Steven:
- Ministry is a marathon, not a sprint
- The foundation of Elevation Church is not yet built; we are a micro church with a macro vision
- You are going to be misunderstood and despised
- Do not pay attention to critics or fans
- Live for an audience of One
- Do not get caught up in the success of this world
- Continue to let people tell you the truth
- Do not limit your thinking to this city, state or nation - aim for world impact
- Do not insult God with small dreams
As a gift to us, Pastor Steven gave out a blank mini-Moleskine with the following stamped inside:
Our Story. Elevation Church.
He challenged us to write the story along with him.
It was an experience too powerful to put into words. Truly, you had to be there. God is at work among the Elevation Nation, and we are ready to respond to His calling.
I think the expressions of our love need more than just one day - it's really a 24/7/365 kind of thing. I know I need all the help I can get, so I'm beginning early, and will continue long after 2/14 has passed.
For instance, I choose to take the following scripture verses as a lesson in the attributes I need to be practicing daily in my marriage:
As this art by Daniel Erlander shows, love binds the other attributes together in all of our life, not just Valentine's Day.
Still, this February 14 would be a good place to start practicing these actions on a daily basis!
Here's an early Happy Valentine's day message to Anita:
I renew my commitment to you and to growing together in the second half of our marriage. I will ask forgiveness and be forgiving. I will let compassion and kindness flow from my life into yours. I ask your patience with me (sometimes daily)! Together we can keep dreaming about what can be, and be willing to let go of missed dreams. As great as the first half of marriage has been, I pledge to be a loving and close companion so that our second half well be even better.
I love you!
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Seth Godin, writing in "Linchpin", states that forward motion isn't the default state of any group of people, particularly groups with lots of people. Cynics and politics and coordination kick in and everything grinds to a halt.
In an old school, top-down factory model this isn't really a problem. The owner controls the boss who controls the foreman who controls the worker. It's a tightly linked chain, and things get done because there is cash to be made.
Most modern organizations are now far more fluid than this. Responsibility isn't as clear, deliverables aren't as measurable, and goals aren't as cut and dried. So things slow down.
Sound familiar? Like maybe your church?
Enter the linchpin. Understanding that your job is to make something happen changes what you do all day. If you can only cajole, not force, if you can only lead, not push, then you make different choices.
In many organizations, but especially the church, you can't say, "Get more excited and insightful or you're fired." No, the men and women who go beyond their job description (if any at all) to do the unexpected and out-of-the-ordinary do it because they were inspired to do so by a leader who isn't even around when the team is at work.
Are you that kind of leader?
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
- Resetting our expectations about life, opportunity, and the American dream - most Americans aren't asking for "everything I can get." All they are asking for is the "opportunity to succeed" and "the good life" if and when they get there. Rather than fixating on what we want, we need to appreciate everything that we have.
- Renewing our celebration of the American family - the American family is broken. Not entirely shattered, but certainly broken. Americans realize the importance of the family even as they struggle to protect it. The essential familial ingredients of time and attention are increasingly rare.
- Reestablishing the respect for religion in America - From the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock in 1620 to the writings of the Founding Fathers in Philadelphia 150 years later, the early American experiment with democracy and opportunity has its origins deeply rooted in religion. In recent years, America is trending toward a new and more troubling experiment. We may soon find out what happens when we unlink our freedoms from our faith.
- Rebuilding the mutual commitment between employer and employee - too many Americans are unhappy in their current jobs. Considering we spend more time at work than we do at anything other than sleeping, this is particularly troubling. Workers need a few more dollars, but even more important, more satisfaction, more fulfillment, and more excitement from their jobs.
- Reinstilling accountability in American government - what American people need from government is elected officials who say what the mean and mean what they say. We will continue to lower our expectations about how much government can do while raising expectations about how well government delivers on what it promises.
- Restoring personal responsibility and empowering creativity among America's youth - what America's younger generation needs is both a firm hand and a gentle guide to channel their creativity and raise them from near economic ruin. Generation 2020 (Luntz's term for those born 1980-1991) can and should be the most successful, dynamic, and diversely talented cohort in American history.
- Respecting the accomplishments, experience, and continuing resources of America's seniors - it is by their labor that the foundations for our success were laid. It is their dreams that we must remember to embrace, live out, and enjoy. There is no longer a clear line between "retired" and "unretired." Businesses, schools, community groups, and churches can all benefit from the vast resources American seniors have at their disposal.
- Investing time and commitment into mentorship - young people need the foundation of a supportive family to survive and thrive, but many also need the capstone of an accomplished mentor to strive and achieve. America's greatest need for mentorship is in the communities where broken schools and broken families are breaking the dreams of America's youth.
- Remembering to have some fun along the way - we have too many challenges, too many problems, and too many worries to give up on life and forget to have fun. You can't make it a better tomorrow if you don't take the time to enjoy life today.
"What Americans Really Want...Really" is powerful and sobering glimpse into what we collectively are thinking, hoping, dreaming - and fearing. If your passion is about people, then this book really ought to be your next reading assignment.
We all share a continuing responsibility to better understand one another. Understanding is an essential underpinning for our community. The more we have of it, the better - especially when our public institutions are wavering.
Monday, February 8, 2010
Let's say you are the owner of a business, the head of a marketing department, someone who sells things to customers - or a leader in a church.
Frank Luntz has conducted thousands of hours of research to discover the answer to that question, and his latest book "What Americans Really Want...Really" is a fascinating journey into the mind and actions of people in America.
It's a book about understanding priorities, not trivialities or frivolities. It's about the contradictions, large and small, between what we want and what we really need.
Luntz discovers what we are thinking in diverse areas from corporate policy to what we eat to our religious views - and everything in between. His major conclusion? We are a nation of well-meaning hypocrites:
- We want smaller, less intrusive government, yet we want more oversight of the economy and oppose specific budget cuts.
- We want taxes lowered, but we won't accept a decline in the quantity and quality of services and we aren't eager to pay for stuff ourselves.
- We say we eat healthy, but just look at what we actually consume.
- We say we care about the environment, but we won't give up our pickups or SUVs.
If you're looking for a real discussion of our public hopes and private fears, wants, and needs, you've come to the right place.
Tomorrow: Luntz's nine priorities on what America really needs.
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Hall believes that the problem of homelessness will never be solved by government. He states "government can neither love a man nor lovingly hold him accountable. The chronically homeless need love, compassion, accountability, and someone to come alongside them and hold them steady as the limp along the winding, pitted road to wholeness."
In his travels, Ron proposes a "Thirty Day Plan to End Homelessness". It works like this: the local pastor or priest or rabbi motivates his or her congregation to adopt one chronically homeless person. Each body of believers, whether it's fifty or a thousand strong, would assume collective responsibility for taking in one person and loving that person back into society.
What the church is offering is unconditional love - part of which recognizes that real love includes loving a person from dependence to independece. The result is up to God.
Saturday, February 6, 2010
Friday, February 5, 2010
Q: How do you put together a team of leaders to guide a church through a building project?
My reply is that you don't just want a team, you need a high-performing team. The foundational work that I have used for several years is based on what Pat MacMillian, author of "The Performance Factor", has described as six characteristics of a high-performing team. The first characteristic was a common purpose. The second was crystal clear roles. Here are the remaining four characteristics.
High performance teams need - no, demand - accepted leadership capable of calling out the levels of initiative and creativity that motivate exceptional levels of both individual and collective performance.
High performance teams have effective processes. They identify, map, and then master their key team processes. They constantly evaluate the effectiveness of key processes, asking: How are we doing? What are we learning? How can we do it better?
High performance teams must work out of a foundation of solid relationships. The relational qualities of trust, acceptance, respect, courtesy, and a liberal dose of understanding are needed for high levels of team effectiveness.
High performance teams have excellent communication. No team can move faster than it communicates; fast, clear, and accurate communication is the key to thinking and acting collectively.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Q: How do you put together a team of leaders to guide a church through a building project?
The first characteristic was a common purpose.
High performance teams are also characterized by crystal clear roles. Every team member is clear about his or her particular role, as well as those of other team members. Roles are about how we design, divide, and deploy the work of the team. While the concept is compellingly logical, many teams find it very challenging to implement in practice.When they get it right, though, team members discover that making their combination more effective and leveraging their collective efforts is an important part to synergistic results.
Broadly speaking, there are three types of team roles:
- Functional (technical) expertise team roles - qualities and knowledge each member brings to the team
- Formal team roles - skills needed for a specific role like team leader or facilitator
- General team roles - the expectations placed on any member of the team so that objectives are met
Role Design Criteria
- Clear - everyone must have role clarity or you will have role confusion
- Complete - cover the whole task - no gaps
- Compatible - match tasks to individual strengths and skills
- Complementary - configure roles so that one person's accomplishment doesn't hinder or block someone else from their task
- Consensual - agree on who is to do what and how
This is my part of our job and no one is done until everyone is done
A: Defining the common purpose of the team is the first step of creating a building team; that common purpose is the reason for cooperation. Following that, the church must develop an appropriate division of labor and create clear roles for team members. This is the strategy for cooperation.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Q: How do you put together a team of leaders to guide a church through a building project?
As with all great questions, the answer begins with another question. One of the first I would ask is Why does this group exist? How that question is answered will determine, to a great measure, the success of the building team. Pat MacMillan, author of "The High Performance Factor", and Seth Godin, author of "Tribes", have been a great resource for me in working with church building teams. Here is the first of several posts on the topic.
The single most important ingredient in a team's success is a clear, common, compelling task. The power of a team flows out of each team member's alignment to its purpose. The task of any team is to accomplish an objective and to do so at exceptional levels of performance. Teams are not ends in themselves, but rather a means to an end.
The power of teamwork flows out of alignment between the interests of individual team members and the mission of the team. To achieve such alignment, team members must see the task as:
- Clear - I see it.
- Relevant - I want it.
- Significant - It's worth it.
- Urgent - I want it...now!
- Achievable - I believe it.
So you want to put together a building team (or any kind of leadership team, for that matter)? There really is an "I" in team - if the individual members aren't committed to a clear, common, and compelling task as individuals first, then you really won't have much of a team.
A: First, the church needs to have a clear understanding of what the team is expected to accomplish. That clear purpose will serve as a guide to seeking individuals who will bring their collective wisdom together to form, over time, a team to accomplish the task.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Take troubleshooting, for instance.
Typically, you would never find troubleshooting as a part of a job description or a checklist. The reason, as Seth Godin points out in his new book "Linchpin", is that if you could describe the steps needed to shoot trouble, there wouldn't be trouble in the first place. What a brilliant statement!
Troubleshooting is an art, and it's a gift from the troubleshooter to the person in trouble. The troubleshooter steps in when everyone else has given up, puts himself on the line, and donates the energy and the risk to the cause.
Just another reason JH Batten delivers MORE.
Monday, February 1, 2010
80 pages in, and I've just about used up one highlighter and a whole pack of Post-It notes! So much good stuff, I can't finish the book before I post.
First, the title of the book: Godin defines a "linchpin" as a person who's worth finding and keeping. It's someone who:
- Stands out
- Exerts emotional labor
- Is seen as indispensable
- Produces interactions that organizations and people care deeply about
Linchpins create forward motion.
They accurately see the truth, understand the situation, and understand the potential outcomes of various situations. The linchpin understands that you can't just "stand by" and wait for someone to tell you what to do or wait for something to happen. You've got to lean into whatever you are facing.
The linchpin is barely restrained, chomping to get to work. He leans into the work, not away from it. His energy creates energy in those around him; his charisma turns into leadership.
Do you have linchpins on your team?