All posts filed under: Movement Building

4 Ways to Improve How You Select Future Ministry Leaders

Identifying and selecting new leaders is critical for long-term ministry growth. Here’s four ways to refine the process: 1. Start a google document listing the potential leaders for your ministry at the beginning of every year. I suggest dividing them at least by male/female. You can also categorize them by readiness to lead, or some other internal value that will help you sort the list. 2. Schedule a regular time to evaluate and curate the current list. Is there someone to add or remove? Has someone on the list demonstrated an increase in attendance, motivation, understanding, vision, etc? Be sure to add notes alongside each name to continue to move the selection process along, so you do not start each meeting catching up and re-discussing things you have already decided. 3. Integrate these potential leaders into as many current events/activities as possible. When you are looking for someone to fill a role, start with this list first, not with a vague ” ‘who would be good for this?’ question.” The focus will shift from planning …

Centralization Check-Up for Your Ministry

Spending time evaluating what sorts of processes or work can be centralized in your ministry can yield tremendous rewards. Centralization frees up leaders to expand your ministry, pursue the vision, and take significant steps of faith. It also prevents people from depending too heavily on past processes or using resources to protect the past instead of usher in the future. Here’s a quick check-list to spark your thinking: Are there multiple people completing the same task? What is the corresponding increase in people and/or resources? Is that ratio a reflection of a desire to maintain the past or build the future? Are there multiple systems for managing communication or task completion? Do you or those in your ministry have to schedule the same event in multiple places, or get more than one person’s permission to take action or acquire resources? Do those leading and serving in your ministry know who the decision maker is for the various roles and responsibilities they perform? Are you fishing with a shotgun in any area? By that I mean …

Error Proof Your Ministry Structure

Talking about changing your ministry only works if there are structures and processes in place to facilitate those changes. The first picture to the left is from In’N’Out Burger–notice that it’s impossible for the tray to be thrown away with the food.     Now look at the second picture on the left from Quizno’s–there are only words there to facilitate the change. A ministry structure keeps out as many people as it lets in–if it’s easy to become a leader but little opportunities to lead, that draws one kind of person. If it’s hard to become a leader but wide open spaces to step out with faith and courage that draws a different person. Here’s a couple questions to think through: What percentage of new people come back? What are two factors that might contribute to this high or low percentage? How many leadership positions (with titles) are there in my ministry? How many total people are involved in my ministry? How much time (per week or per month) is required for someone to …

Diagnose and Tailor Your Ministry Strategy

“Far too many new leaders don’t effectively diagnose their situations and tailor their strategies accordingly. Then, because they don’t understand the situation, they make unnecessary mistakes.”–Michael Watkins from The First 90 Days Tim Casteel shared this quote in the comments of a previous post titled Giving Away Your Ministry. I fell into this category as a new leader and learned this lesson experientially. A new leader often thinks the people are what need to be diagnosed and “fixed.” A seasoned leader knows that the people will never be “fixed” until the resources, structures, and leadership culture match the current reality and propel the ministry toward the mission, vision, and values. Resources: Resources (leaders, laborers, and loot) must align around the long-term (1-3 years) and towards expansion. Sometimes ministries spend most of their resources on the short term and towards enhancement (better coffee and doughnuts), yet wonder why their numbers stay the same year after year. Structures: It’s so easy to either under design or over design your ministry by adding more or not enough teams/groups/committees. …

Speeding Up Your Ministry IQ

Eric Ries presented on The Lean Startup at SXSWI and this was one of his slides:   If We Can Reduce the Time Between Pivots Here’s the definition of a pivot: “a pivot occurs when a start-up tests a new direction while still keeping one metaphorical foot in the original business,” from a post on How to Change Your Ministry Direction. Often times ministry leaders become aware of the need to change directions but wait until it’s a problem instead of an annoyance to do so. To reduce the time between pivots consider asking more questions of your constituents and test to see if your tactics are in fact increasing the amount of leaders, laborers, and loot. We Can Increase Our Odds of Success Another easy trap to fall into is making a BIG change in response to a SMALL problem. This type of reactionary leadership rarely results in greater effectiveness. Ask yourself or your team “What is the SMALLEST change that we can make that will solve this current problem?” This will prevent making …

Socially “Hot” and “Cold” Group Dynamics in College Ministry

College ministry bible studies are infamous for being either socially hot or cold; one group hangs out together outside of the group, welcomes new people, and grows closer as another leaves as soon as it’s over, makes new people feel awkward, and never return the following year. For three years I attempted to solve this group dynamic problem by making the groups “warm”–balancing out socially mature/energetic people with socially immature/quiet ones (mature and energetic do not always go together; nor does immature and quiet. I’m making a general contrast here). In those three years I saw ALL of the groups shrink and end the year with LESS energy than they started with. Year four our ministry tried something different: letting the “hot” groups get hotter and the warm/cold groups get colder. We stopped seeking balance and focused on nurturing the relational bonds that organically formed between students. The results? Our hot groups ended the year with MORE people and energy than they started with, and our warm/cold groups performed similar to the other years. The …

How to Change Your Ministry Direction

An increasing gap between the vision and reality signals the need to make a change in your ministry’s direction. A change in direction can be falsely understood as failure, since it’s a departure from what a leader thought would happen. Yet the ministries that I have observed to be MOST successful make changes swiftly and decisively. A term that’s popular in the entrepreneurial community is called “the pivot.” A recent post from INC magazine describes what it is: “Like the basketball maneuver of the same name, in which a player keeps one foot planted while changing direction with the other foot, a pivot occurs when a start-up tests a new direction while still keeping one metaphorical foot in the original business.” Here’s a simple process for making a pivot: Make some clear and focused observations about your current reality; this includes hard and soft data. Discern the gap between what you want to see happen and what those in your ministry are doing. Shift your direction/structure/strategy to match the existing behavior of those in your …

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 …