All posts filed under: Ministry Starting

A Simple College Ministry Leadership Strategy

A healthy, mature, and growing in number group of emerging leaders is a strong indicator of a ministry’s health. But besides challenging new students to leadership positions how do you get there? From 30,000 feet this is the best way to develop a college ministry leadership team: Test them in the Fall Align them in the Winter Select them in the Spring Test in the Fall If you have waited until the winter or spring to talk about potential leaders then you have waited too long. Have a conversation about potential leaders at the end of the second week of school. Ask your staff to project who they think will be a leader by the end of the year. This exercise is great for getting staff to think about the future, and to get out of the paradigm of managing the present and onto the most important task of expanding in light of the future. Align in the Winter There’s always less going on in the winter months–less people coming, less motivation from your team, …

Student Run Churches Video

Students can not only plant churches, but lead a church planting movement! I found this out on a recent trip to Manila, the Philippines. This short video is of the Melvin, Pastor of Stillwaters Church, casting vision and describing what his student led and planted church is doing. Melvin’s heart and the model of truly entrusting and empowering young leaders with real roles and responsibilities is incredibly encouraging.

A Helpful Ministry Evaluation Diagram

“How many people are involved in your ministry?” Have you ever seen someone stammer through this answer and give four or five different numbers? Here’s the messy answer that I often gave: “Well we have ______ that come to our weekly meeting, _______involved in bible studies, ______etc,” It’s crucial to quantify your ministry so that you can accurately discern how well you are doing at drawing and connecting new people, and developing and empowering leaders. If people start fitting into more than one of your metrics than you cannot accurately diagnose and strategically make changes. From there it’s easy to start relying on your gut which may or may not be accurate (hint: it’s not. see this post on why no one listens to data). Here’s a great diagram from this blog post that provides an alternative or complementary way of looking at your ministry: I really like his categories: New Customers Returned Customers Skeptics Dead Customers I really like the distinction between skeptics and dead customers. Here’s how the designer of the funnel describes …

Vitamins or Aspirin? Present & Future Focused Leadership

“Netflix as a DVD mailer was a vitamin. But Netflix as a late-fee vanquisher was an aspirin. It eliminated a pain.”–from a recent Fast Company article by Dan and Chip Heath, authors of Switch and Made to Stick. I struggled through this article because I like vitamins more than aspirin. I love preparing for the future in general and in ministry. But my leadership could be drastically improved by learning how to discern the aspirin of the present and connect it to the vitamin of the future! So far in my seven years in ministry more people have been interested in the present far more than the future–to the tune of 80/20 present/future (rough estimate). I will say that good leaders HAVE to own the future whether they are naturally wired towards it or not, but the majority of people that I’ve led value aspirin over vitamins. One more great quote from the article: “You’ve heard the old saying “If you invent a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door.” Don’t …

Strategy Over Worry: Great Advice from an Entrepreneur

“But it is equally critical to have a strategy that makes sense in the context of what is going on and execute it with purpose and pace. If you spend too much time looking over your shoulder, you will not execute well.”–Fred Wilson I feel like I could spend the next ten years on “a strategy that makes sense in the context of what’s going on” and be extremely effective in ministry. What a great quote! When moving my ministry from X to Y so often what other ministry’s/people factor too heavily in the execution process. Also the strategy and vision that was so fresh a month or two ago suddenly gets pushed aside in order to make sure my ministry is not “behind” on something someone else is doing. LAME! One more great quote from Wilson: “Plan, build, ship, and scale. Assess. Repeat again and again. Win.” So often what gets lost when we focus on keeping up with others is ASSESS! It’s hard enough to take the time to effectively evaluate what’s working …

How Much Work Are You Making New People Do?

Ministry starting and building tip: Make New People Work as Little as Possible Our family has been “the new couple” at quite a few churches since the summer and the word that comes to mind for us is TIRING. Most of these churches have been above average in their ability to welcome us; yet we are still worn out from leaving our kids with strangers, having our kids revolt from childcare, shaking hands with lots of strangers, awkward pauses in conversations, etc. I came across a post on why Wesabe.com lost to Mint.com in the battle for an online personal money management application. I love these real life stories of what makes one company succeed over the other especially when they offer similar tools or features. My favorite and the most real quote from the post: “I was focused on trying to make the usability of editing data as easy and functional as it could be; Mint was focused on making it so you never had to do that at all. Their approach completely kicked …

Bootstrapping Your Ministry

Bootstrapping my ministry was less about doing what other big ministries were doing in the hopes of becoming like them and more about focusing on leveraging what I did have to grow to the next level (in relation to leaders–size and quality, laborers, and loot). I recently had a conversation with another ministry starter about fundraising with limited time and energy. We both agreed it was hard but looking back on my last five years leading a ministry I would say I wasted lots of time worrying about raising money instead of leveraging the resources I did have (time, people to do the ministry, and advisers to consult the ministry)–which most likely would have led to raising money. The Bootstrapper’s Bible by Seth Godin is a great set of slides to encourage you if you starting a ministry. You will have to do some translating as it targets businesses but there are plenty of gems in there. Here are quotes from the opening manifesto: “I am a bootstrapper. I have initiative and insight and guts, …

Ministry Starting Tip: Get Specific and Real

Sometimes those whom you lead need very specific tasks to help them understand how to accomplish a particular role or responsibility. Those who are considering leadership need to know what specific actions they would be doing from you, because most often their assumptions differ dramatically from what’s expected. This job description from the 37Signals team, a software company, perfectly illustrated this. This is for the role of Office Manager/Executive Assistant. Instantly if I was thinking about applying I would know what a typical day and probably a typical week would look like. So often in ministry I’ve seen specific tactics substituted for vague and semi-inspiring spiritual language. When that person fails to execute because they did not know what was expected of them they often see it as a lack of spirituality on their part, when in fact it was more a result of poor communication. Bible Study leader is one of the most misunderstood role in ministry–potential leaders often hear this as showing up and telling other people what they know about the bible, …

Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls…When Leading Change

When seeking to lead significant change the focus has to be on what’s most required/needed by those on the field. This is an illustration of the Waterfall Model that applies to software development. It’s a great example of what NOT to do when leading change because the requirements are set before the product has been used or tested by the intended audience of the product. It’s a method that does not integrate or allow the feedback or needs of the audience/users until AFTER the product is complete. Many ministry leaders make the same mistake–they have good intentions to bring change but fail to take in the feedback of those in their ministry until AFTER the changes are finalized; not only does this significantly decrease morale but it also shortens the effectiveness of the changes. Wikipedia elaborates: “Those opposed to the waterfall model argue that this idea tends to fall apart when the problem being measured is constantly changing due to requirement modifications and new realizations about the problem itself.” An alternative process to the Waterfall …

Maximizing a Small Team

Thought this was great advice from the 37 Signals guys if you are part of or leading a small team: Less Money, more power Small teams can make accurate observations since they are close to the action and DO something about it quickly. You may lose some wisdom or insight that larger teams offer but you can make up for it by quick and intentional corrections. Less money, more value Without money the focus can truly be on how well the leaders and followers live out the mission, vision, and values relative to their level of involvement. Aside: I created the ministry funnel to help leaders discern how to intentionally develop and grow those involved. Less resources, better use I’ve seen less resources limit choices in a good way–it forces the team to decide on what’s MOST important, and makes it easier to understand what’s good but not best. Less time, better time Those new to full time ministry people are often surprised by how hard it is to work on important but not urgent …