7 Steps to Church Growth – A Sneak Peek at Carey Nieuwhof’s New Book “Lasting Impact”

7 steps to church growth is a series of conversations to have with your team about the future.

Why is church growth such a difficult thing to talk about? On one hand, we want to dismiss it . . . after all, it’s spiritual growth we want for our congregation, not just attendance. On the other hand, it’s our mission to reach people for Jesus. Attendance figures are a partial indicator of that.

Orange Blog Rob CizekEveryone agrees that church growth is better than church decline. To help churches grow, influential pastor Carey Nieuwhof is about to release “Lasting Impact – 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow.” I was able to get an advance copy of the book when it debuted at the Orange Conference. The book will be published later this summer. Meantime, here is a sneak-peek at the wisdom Nieuwhof offers:

Conversation #1. Why Are We Not Growing Faster?
Church growth isn’t a mystery. There are patterns we can spot in both declining and growing churches. For instance, declining churches are:
> In conflict.
> More in love with the past than the future.
> Not that awesome to be around.
> Focused inwardly.
> See culture as the enemy.
> Afraid to risk what is for the sake of what might be.
> Can’t make a decision.
> Talk more than act.
> Don’t think there’s anything wrong.
> More focused on growth than God.

To get a stagnant church growing:
> Consider structure: Most churches are structured (organized) to remain small. You can’t be a supermarket if you are structured like a small “mom and pop” grocery story.
> Rethink the pastor’s role: Many congregations see the pastor as the only one who can give care, counseling and perform weddings/funerals. Consider equipping congregation members to handle most of the caring. This way the pastor can focus on higher level functions and growth strategy.
> Develop a strategy: Many churches are clear on mission and vision (the “why” and “what”), but lack a widely agreed upon strategy (“how” you will accomplish your mission and vision).
> Many small churches are not led by true leaders. Growing churches move people with the gift of leadership into positions of leadership.
> Empower volunteers.
> Stop micromanaging.
> Simplify programming. Most churches attempt to do too many things. Activity does not equal accomplishment. Cut “good” programs in order to focus on just a few “great” ones.

To grow, address the real issues. Don’t simply make a change in form, make a change in substance. Questions to ask when a church stops growing:
> Is our sense of mission white-hot?
> Has our strategy or approach become dated?
> Are we on top of the constant change in our culture?
> Are we focused on unchurched people or on ourselves?

Growing churches:
> Have main services that engage teenagers. If teens find your service boring, so will unchurched people.
> Are good with questions. Embracing the questions of unchurched people is a form of embracing them.
> Are honest about struggles. Unchurched people are suspicious when church leaders appear to have it “all together.”
> Have easy, obvious, strategic and helpful steps for new people.
> Have dumped assumptions. Unchurched people don’t know the basics of the Christian faith.
> Don’t do outreach as a program. Unchurched people know when “insiders” are putting on a show for outsiders.
> Are flexible and adaptable. We are never done reaching people. Churches that are adaptable and flexible in their strategy (not their mission or vision) will have the best chance of continually reaching unchurched people.

The main causes of church stagnation and decline are:
> Internal dysfunction that is sapping the community of its life, such as conflict, wrong people in the wrong places, and unrealistic expectations of staff, boards and volunteers.
> Structural issues, such as boards, that micromanage or pastoral care being vesting in a handful of leaders.
> An inward focus that refuses to acknowledge the need to change in order to be effective with outsiders.

Lasting ImpactConversation #2. How Do We Respond as People Attend Church Less Often?
Even if you are successful leading people to Jesus, people are simply attending church less frequently. Here are some reasons:
> Greater affluence. People with more money have options, technology, travel and kids.
> Increased kids’ activities. Many children are playing on traveling sports teams. Parents are choosing kids’ sports over church.
> More people are traveling for business and pleasure.
> 24/7 culture. Working on weekends is common. Society no longer has a common pause day.
> Blended and single-parent families. When custody is shared, perfect attendance is 26 weeks a year.
> Online options. Churches with an online presence negatively impact physical attendance, but likely increase their overall reach.
> Cultural disappearance of guilt. People used to feel guilty about missing church. No longer.
> Self-directed spirituality. Postmodern thinking wants a self-directed approach over an institutional one.
> Failure to see direct benefit. People always make time for what they value most. They may not see value in attending church week after week.
> Valuing attendance over engagement. Engaged people attend more. People who merely attend fade away with time. Place the value on engagement and attendance may take care of itself.
> A massive culture shift. Our culture is shifting seismically.

Characteristics of today’s unchurched people:
> They don’t have big “problems.” Many people’s lives aren’t falling apart. They are content with their lives without God.
> Most are spiritual. Most believe in some kind of God and are offended when you see them as atheists.
> They aren’t sure what “Christian” means. You can’t make any assumptions about what people know about the Christian faith.
> You can’t call them back to something they never knew. “Revival” assumes there is something to revive.
> Many have tried church, but left. They had a negative experience the first time. This influences their expectations if they return to church.
> They want you to be 100% Christian, not some watered-down version.
> They’re intelligent, so speak to that. Don’t speak down to people that are new.
> They hate hypocrisy.
> They love transparency.
> They invite their friends if they like what they’re discovering.
> Their spiritual trajectory varies dramatically. Give people a chance to hang in the shadows for a while, then provide multiple jumping-in points throughout the year.
> Some want to be anonymous and some want immediate connection.

Tips for connecting with infrequent attenders and unchurched people:
> Embrace them. An unchurched person can initially seem very different than Christians who have been to church all their lives.
> Show empathy. If a person who has never gone to church is coming 12 times a year, that’s real progress.
> Separate the mission from the method. Our mission is to lead people to Jesus, not simply to get them to show up for an hour on Sunday.
> Celebrate wins. When a child takes their first steps, we applaud wildly. Do the same when people take steps spiritually.
> Elevate relationships. Create meaningful relationships through small groups.
> Love people. Don’t underestimate the power of simply showing love and grace.
> Create a culture of serving. Serving connects people to something bigger than themselves.
> Prioritize kids and teens. The more you prioritize families, the more families will prioritize Sundays.
> Create an irresistible experience. Many churches are resistible and don’t value excellence. Are we content with being mediocre?
> Create an awesome online presence. Have a quality social media program. Be the favorite person in their inbox and their favorite thing to see in their newsfeed.
> Offer offline surprises. Do something unique or fun just for those attending the physical location (not available online).
> Start measuring spiritual growth results.

Conversation #3. Are Our Leaders Healthy . . . Really?
Healthy leaders create healthy churches. The demands of leadership push you towards becoming unhealthy. Watch for these signs of burnout:
> Your motivation is fading. The passion that once fueled you is gone.
> Your main emotion is numbness. You no longer feel the highs and lows.
> People drain you. Nobody energizes you anymore.
> Little things make you disproportionately angry.
> You’re becoming cynical.
> Your productivity is dropping.
> You’re self-medicating (overeating, working more, gossip, spending, under-the-radar substance abuse).
> You don’t laugh anymore.
> Sleep and time off no longer refuel you.

10 healthy options for self-care:
> A great daily time with God
> Exercise
> A healthy diet
> Proper sleep
> Intentional white space in your calendar
> Healthy friendships. When was the last time you hung out with a friend you didn’t need to minster to?
> Margin. You are at your most kind when you have the most margin.
> Hobbies
> Family time
> Coaching and counseling

Conversation #4. What Keeps High-Capacity Leaders from Engaging Our Mission?
Churches are volunteer organizations. Many churches maintain a mediocre volunteer culture, which deters high-capacity volunteers. Volunteers ask 5 questions. If you answer them in a healthy way, high-capacity volunteers will stick around.
> Are the personal relationships around here healthy?
> Will serving help me grow spiritually? Pray for and with your volunteers. Share your journey and encourage theirs. Mentor them.
> Am I just a means to an end? Care about people, don’t just use them.
> Will you help me develop the skills I need? People need a little training to do the task well.
> Am I signing up for life? Put a time limit for serving when you ask someone to volunteer.

Reasons high-capacity people leave your team:
> The challenge isn’t big enough.
> You vision, mission and strategy are fuzzy.
> You’re disorganized.
> You let people off the hook too easily. For everyone’s sake, you should hold volunteers accountable (like you do with staff).
> You’re not giving them enough personal attention.
> You don’t have enough other high-capacity volunteers around them.

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof

Conversation #5. Why are Young Adults Walking Away from Church?
Half the students who are actively involved with church during high school leave after graduation. Here are some things that will help them stick around:
> Inter-generational relationships. Young adults want mentoring and to serve with older adults.
> Giving and receiving grace. Research shows that churches that show grace to teens do better than those that do not.
> Expressing doubt safely. Young people need to be able to express doubt. This is part of developing faith. It is unexpressed doubt that is toxic to faith.

Why many young people have stopped attending church:
> The church is irrelevant, the leaders are hypocritical, and leaders have experienced too much moral failure. Counter this by creating a culture of integrity, authenticity and grace.
> God is missing in the church. Young people are looking for God and can’t find Him in the church.
> Legitimate doubt is prohibited. Conservative churches dismiss questions with trite answers. Liberal churches answer with too much ambiguity.
> People aren’t learning about God. People can’t understand anything the pastor teaches . . . as if he is speaking a foreign language.
> They’re not finding community.

In the past you could improve your church by making it more cool (band, lights, etc.). Now most cities have a lot of cool churches. Cool no longer works as a way to attract unchurched people. Here are things that will work:
> Authentic leadership and connection.
> An elevated sense of mission
> Hope
> Elevated community
> Experimentation

Conversation #6. What Cultural Trends Are We Missing?
Culture is changing rapidly. Churches that thrive over the long run will study culture, and in that process, they will become flexible, agile and adaptive. Here are some cultural trends that church leaders can’t ignore:
> Online is the new default. People check you out online before they come through your doors.
> Wi-Fi and smartphones. Your audience is Googling you during services. Do you assume your audience is intelligent, literate and has options?
> Dialog. People want to talk, not just listen. What venues do you have for real conversation?
> Loyalty. Brand loyalty is low. Being around for a long time can be seen as a liability. How are you showing the relevance of faith?
> Lack of guilt. Guilt used to motivate people, but no longer does.
> Declining trust in authority and institutions. People start out with suspicion as their primary approach to the church and its leaders.
> Personalized, eclectic spirituality. People are starting their spiritual journeys with minds open to many different faiths and their own ideas of what spirituality should be.
> Personal mission. People aren’t waiting for some leader to change the world. They just do it themselves.
> Trust in user reviews. What you say about your organization matters less than what others say.
> The death of cash and checks.

What will the future church look like?
> Gatherings will be smaller and larger at the same time. Large churches will be large because they are a collection of dozens of smaller gatherings under some form of shared leadership.
> Churches will have a quicker, lighter footprint. Portable church and innovative gatherings will prevail over multi-million dollar mega-facilities.
> Churches will be about what they want for people, not about what they want from people.
> More church staff will come from the marketplace rather than seminaries.
> Churches that love their model more than their mission will die.
> The church will still gather on weekends.
> Consumer Christianity will die and a more selfless discipleship will emerge.
> Sundays will become more about what we give than what we get.
> Attendance will no longer drive engagement; engagement will drive attendance.
> Simplified ministries will complement peoples’ lives, not compete with peoples’ lives.
> Online church will supplement the journey but not become the journey.
> Online church will become more of a front door than a back door.
> Online relationships will be valued as real relationships.

Carey Nieuwhof at Orange Atlanta.

Carey Nieuwhof at Orange Atlanta.

Conversation #7. What Are We Actually Willing to Change?
Here are things we can do when people want a church to grow but not to change:
> Tell the truth. Your patterns, habits and level of effectiveness as a church got you to where you are now. Point out the truth nobody wants to talk about.
> Plot trajectory. Map where the organization is going. “If we continue doing what we’re doing today, where will we be one year, two years and five years from now? If we change, where will we be one year, two years and five years from now?”
> Ban delusional talk. Refuse to allow people to divorce themselves from reality.
> Get an outside view. Read a book with your team, attend a conference or bring in a consultant.
> Offer constant feedback. Continue to point the group back to the truth.
> Draw a line and call it for what it is. At some point you have to stop talking and start doing. Put a do-by date on your conversations.

How to lead change when you’re not the boss:

> Think like a senior leader. Think about how an idea impacts the greater organization.
> Express desires, not demands. Show respect and share how you feel, don’t tell your leader how you think they should feel.
> Explain the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’. Click here for an excellent TED Talk on this.
> Stay publicly loyal. Public loyalty buys private leverage.
> Be part of the solution.
> Change yourself. Don’t just focus on the changes you want to see in others.

“Lasting Impact” is designed to be read with your staff. Each chapter includes questions to work through with your team. Click here to obtain a copy as soon as it is published.

There is great value in thinking about the future of our churches and making changes that improve our organizations. As Nieuwhof concludes, “The best is yet to come, and you have the potential to play a meaningful part in that amazing story.”

MORE INFORMATION

10 Reasons Your Church Isn’t Growing

5 Reasons Churches Stop Growing

5 Signs Bad Governance Is Limiting Your Church Growth

10 Predictions About The Future Of Church

8 Reasons Churches Don’t Break The 200 Attendance Mark

The Changes Your Church Needs To Make As It Grows (Podcast)

Lasting Impact Jacket

 


 

“It’s Just A Phase” – Reggie Joiner’s New Orange Focus

Reggie Joiner

Reggie Joiner at the Orange Conference 2015.

Orange is an organization that promotes quality leadership in children’s and student ministry. This year they announced a new focus: “It’s Just A Phase.” If we understand that the phases of a child’s life are short seasons, we can make the most of them. Below are notes from @ReggieJoiner’s main keynote session in which he outlined the new direction for Orange. Thanks to my friend @CherylKneeland for putting these together!

If you would like to see video of Reggie Joiner explaining these key concepts, click here for part one, here for part two and here for part three.

 

OC15 ORANGE CONFERENCE OPENING SESSION – REGGIE JOINER

IT’S JUST A PHASE, SO DON’T MISS IT.

We don’t want your 3rd graders and 6th graders and 12th graders to miss out because you don’t get it. Reasons it’s easy to miss:

1. We don’t see what we don’t see.

PRESCHOOL: EMBRACE- Am I able?

ELEMENTARY: ENGAGE- Do I have what it takes?

MIDDLE SCHOOL: AFFIRM- Who do I like?

1. Help them own their own faith.

2. Help them begin to value community.

HIGH SCHOOL: MOBILIZE- Why should I believe (you)?

We need a common language as leaders.

2. We don’t remember what we don’t remember. 

One thing ties us all together: Every kid is made in the image of God.

Every kid has the divine capacity to…love, care…

“Whoever welcomes one such child welcomes me.” -Jesus

Jesus made kids a pretty big deal.

When I welcome you (a child), it’s like I’m welcoming God.

I don’t think the problem is we forget kids are sinners, I think the problem is we forget kids are made in the image of God.

God has created and designed us in such a way that we can do what we do even when we don’t know who He is.

Treat every kid who breathes like they are made in the image of God.

3. We don’t anticipate what we don’t anticipate.

Lean into each other and teach each other what this looks like in every phase.

Preschool: 4 out of every 10 kids live without a father.

Elementary: 2 out of every 10 girls are sexually abused.

Middle School: 1 out of every 10 kids start cutting.

1 out of of every 10 kids will be sexually active by the time they finish 8th grade.

High School:

2% of kids will be sexually active by the end of 7th grade.

30% of kids will be sexually active by the end of 9th grade.

41% by the end of 10th grade

54% by the end of 11th grade

64% by the end of 12th grade

How can we do this better?

Don’t let anyone tell you what you do is not important.

Think about your role and what God has called you to do.

Comments by Jim Burns:

So love every kid like they are wired to show love.

Even with that depth of pain, with so many kids struggling, those issues don’t define them. Love does.

Reach children not by creating barriers but by loving them.

“Jesus wept.” Our God cares that deeply for children.

Mark 9:42 He cares deeply for children.

Best shot at helping kids is when the church and home come together (Think Orange).

Most kids don’t get good, healthy, positive sex education growing up.

“Don’t do it.” Then silence is a mixed message.

25% of women who have sexual intercourse (before marriage) experience depression within 3 months.

65% of kids leave the church right after High School.

SEXUALITY

Preschool- Embrace 

God made their body. He made boys, girls, different shapes, sizes… God made you. God made boys with penises and girls with vaginas. Help them get comfortable with their bodies.

Elementary- Engage

Answer questions, ask questions. They are curious how God makes babies. Ask: Do they know someone expecting a baby?

Teach kids to put a hand out and tell anyone (peers or adults) to STOP then tell a trusted adult if someone tries to touch their private parts.

Sharing your private parts is something you save for your future marriage.

Middle School/High School- Mobilize

Talk about sexuality.

Start talking about pornography. The average age in the US that a kid first views pornography is 11 years old.

Purity Code: In honor of God, my family, and my future spouse…

Experimental phase- Keep your standard high but shower them with Grace.

Genesis 1 & 2, Exodus 20:14, 1 Thessalonians 1:3,…

Teach them one flesh, not just as a sexual thing but as a spiritual thing.

No such thing as casual sex.

God’s love knows no limits.

So love every kid like they are wired to love. Believe in them, bless them, and watch them thrive.

Jon Acuff at the Atlanta Orange Conference 2015.

Jon Acuff at the Atlanta Orange Conference 2015.

Comments by @JonAcuff

Childhood feels shorter than it’s ever been.

You can fast-forward childhood but you can’t rewind it.

Sometimes it starts with a phone.

There’s not a 3rd grader on the planet that’s emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually able to handle the internet and everyone on it.

It’s not a question of whether they’ll talk about their identity, it’s who they’ll talk about it with.

We’ve forgotten that we’re wired with the image of God.

The hardest part of what you do is you often don’t get to see the results.

Stories get stuck, unless leaders get brave.

There’s a world of kids out there waiting for those four words (Embrace, Engage, Affirm, Mobilize).

Additional comments by @reggiejoiner

When you EMBRACE the physical needs of preschoolers, you are being Jesus to them.

When you lean into kids and try to keep their attention, you ENGAGE them; you are doing what Jesus stepped onto this planet to do.

When a kid shifts into the world you have them in and starts to wonder if they’re worth it, you AFFIRM them. You are doing what Jesus stepped onto this planet to do. They need to know what it’s like to be forgiven.

The Countdown clock is spinning as fast as it can. You have the opportunity to disciple high schoolers, be with them. Encourage them in a mission that only they can do. MOBILIZE them and understand that they will outgrow your programs, but they will not outgrow personal ministry.

Every kid is created in the image of God and we need to understand that and tell them that.

The people who abandon you don’t get to decide who you become.

So treat every kid like they are created in the image of God.


 

Orange Atlanta 2015

 

Top Leadership Quotes From #OC15 – Orange Conference Atlanta

The top leadership quotes from #OC15, the Orange Conference Atlanta.

Orange Blog Rob CizekEvery April 6,000 leaders meet in Atlanta for the Orange Conference. Click here to see a brief video about the conference. The conference has tracks for senior church leadership, children’s ministry and student ministry. Here are the top quotes, gathered from the main sessions, breakouts and the senior leadership track:

TOP 10 QUOTES FROM FRIDAY

10. Stories get stuck unless leaders get brave. – @JonAcuff via @CCchanginglives

9. Show me a business that failed, I’ll show you a leader that was isolated. – @JonAcuff via @OrangeLeaders

8. The problem in the church is when we go from annointing to pedigree. – @perrynoble

7. The sooner you get students involved in ministry the stronger their faith becomes. – @perrynoble

6. The next generation is the greatest untapped missions field. – @perrynoble

5. We won’t reach the next gerenation. We will raise up the next generation to reach the next generation.- @perrynoble

4. It’s impossible to get stuck somewhere old if you keep learning the new. – @JonAcuff

3. Our teens don’t need our protection. They need our permission (to slay giants.) – @perrynoble

2. Leaders who can’t be questioned do questionable things. – @JonAcuff

1. Bravery is a choice, not a feeling. – @JonAcufff

 

TOP 10 LEADERSHIP QUOTES FROM THURSDAY

Jon Acuff at Orange Atlanta 2015.

Jon Acuff at Orange Atlanta 2015.

10. Leaders become ineffective when they fail to grow both their character & their competency. – @cnieuwhof

9. Don’t tell it like it is. Tell it like it could be. – @DougFields via @JoshShipp

8.  Irrelevance happens when the speed of change outside an organization is greater than inside an organization. – @RickWarren via @cnieuwhof

7. There is a huge difference between your target audience and your actual audience. – @ryanleak via @jcisonline

6. Honest evaluation will only come one way: by invitation only. – @ryanleak via @PlayMakersMin

5. Needy people will always demand and clamor for our attention. Healthy people have to be invited in. – @cnieuwhof via @PlayMakersMin

4. Bravery-being stubborn in the face of fear” @JonAcuff via @donnatdavis

3. Organizations that don’t change becomes museums to another era.  – @cnieuwhof

2. Extraordinary leadership is often not recognizable in the moment, but rather in hindsight. ~ @JenniCatron via @_TimParsons

1. Blame is simply a change avoidance strategy. -@AndyStanley via @PlayMakersMin

 

BONUS QUOTES FROM THURSDAY

Andy Stanley at Orange Atlanta 2015.

Andy Stanley at Orange Atlanta 2015.

Is the work of God you do destroying the work of God in you? – @drjimburns via @hughalan

Sometimes fear pretends to be humility when it’s really cowardice. – @JonAcuff via @bichaelmowman

If you focus on what you don’t have, it will diminish your influence. – @joshgagnon via @cnieuwhof

You have no idea of what or WHO hangs in the balance of your decision to embrace the burden God has put in your heart. – @AndyStanley via @252Basics

There’s an inexorable correlation between leadership and change. – @AndyStanley via @ReggieJoiner

Leaders fix things that are broken, but fixing things require change and change requires conflict. – @AndyStanley via @zachsteiger

The question every leader needs to ask. Who are you? What breaks your heart? – @AndyStanley via @cnieuwhof

The people who abandon you do not get to determine your future. – @reggiejoiner via @cnieuwhof

It’s powerful when people who’ve said no to your church realize your church has still said yes to them.  – @JeffHenderson via @_TimParsons_

Don’t pay the dumb tax. Learn from the experiences of others. via @Luke_Saunders

Doubt isn’t toxic to faith, silence is. – @KPowellFYI via @firstlookcurr

What causes most churches to implode?  Insider-thinking.  – @JeffHenderson via @darren_sullivan

Leaders who see the future are in a better position to seize the future. – @cnieuwhof

You project past failures onto new situations. – @cnieuwhof

The antidote to cynicism is curiosity. – @cnieuwhof

The antidote to self-medication is self-care. – @cnieuwhof

Orange Conference Atlanta

When you’re young, the current cultural dialogue is your native tongue.  – @cnieuwhof

Culture never asks permission to change. It just changes.  – @cnieuwhof

The antidote to irrelevance is change. – @cnieuwhof

Churches become ineffective when, over a long period of time, leaders begin to love the method more than they love the mission. – @cnieuwhof

Reinvention & renewal are the antidoes to ineffectiveness. – @cnieuwhof

To future-proof, ask ‘What am I not seeing that I should be seeing?’ & ‘Who can help me see what I’m not seeing?’ – @cnieuwhof


TOP 10 LEADERSHIP QUOTES FROM WEDNESDAY

10. Play favorites. Spend 80% of your time with the people who give you 80% of your results. – @cnieuwhof

9. You don’t just manage your time, but your energy. – @JeffHenderson

Orange Conference8. If you are going to have great dreams you are going to have great uncertanty. – @JeffHenderson

7. Don’t compare your everyday self to everyone else’s highlight reel. – @joshgagnon

6. Would you volunteer for you?  – @cnieuwhof

5. Don’t be afraid to risk what is for what could be. – @cnieuwhof

4. If you want the impact of a supermarket, you can’t run things like a mom and pop store. – @cnieuwhof

3. The healthiiest parts of my workout are the parts I like the least. (A lot like life and work.) – @cnieuwhof

2. Authentic is more powerful than cool. – @cnieuwhof

1. You can’t follow fear. (Leaders, don’t lead out of fear.) – @cnieuwhof


BONUS LEADERSHIP QUOTES

Carey Nieuwhof at Orange Atlanta.

Carey Nieuwhof at Orange Atlanta.

Leaders who can’t be questioned end up doing questionable things. – @JonAcuff

To grow, we must develop, not just delegate. – @GeoffSurratt

Effective leaders have a bias for action. – @cnieuwhof

You are unwilling to change if the gap between what you say and what you actually do is too large. – @cnieuwhof

People may have great ideas. But if it does not meet the strategy, then it does not fit. – @DougFields

When we was the last time you experienced your program as an insider? – @SueMiller01

Churches stop growing because they bet too much on being cool. – @cnieuwhof

Churches stop growing because you are more in love with the method than you are with the mission.  – @cnieuwhof

Churches stop growing because your church’s passion for the past or present is more compelling than your vision for the future. – @cnieuwhof

(Leaders) what you model is what your staff repeats. – @JenniCatron

People with significant leadership gifting respond best to significant challenges. – @cnieuwhof

Strategy begins as divisive, but ultimately aligns an organization. – @cnieuwhof

Micromangement is a sign you don’t trust someone. – @cnieuwhof

Some people will put up with disorganization, but high capacity leaders will ultimately give up. Be organized. – @cnieuwhof

Your organization will drift to the level of accountability the team leader establishes. – @cnieuwhof

OC15-25Surround high capacity people with high capacity people. Like attracts like and like keeps like. – @cnieuwhof

Pay volunteers in non-financial currencies: Gratitude, Attention, Trust, Empowerment & Respect. – @cnieuwhof

People gravitate toward where they are valued most. – @cnieuwhof

Respect is an attitude as much as it is a behavior. – @cnieuwhof

 

This information was presented at the national Orange Conference #OC15. Click here for more information on Orange.


 

Orange Atlanta 2015

Top 10 Leadership Quotes From The CLA #Outcomes15

Here are the top leadership quotes from this year’s Christian Leadership Alliance national conference (from the #Outcomes15 Twitter feed):

#10. One of the great failures of many leaders: “Falling in love with the process rather than the outcome.” – @CLAleader (via @BradleyReid77)

#9. 90% of our #leadership influence lies in the qualities beneath the surface. – @TimElmore (via @geohil)

#8. The purpose of life is not to arrive at the casket safely. – @ChristineCaine (via @ArnieAdkison)

#7. How well a leader follows others offers people quick insight into the leader’s character. – @CLALeader (via @geohil)

#6. There is a huge difference between a program and a movement. Movements start small and take time. – @TimElmore (via @geohil)

#5. Both courage and fear are contagious. – @TimElmore (via @geohil)

#4. We can get so focused on the program or product that we can forget the purpose of the organization. – @TimElmore (via @geohil)

#3. Don’t let the fear of failure lock you into comfort. – Israel Gaither (via @PSean)

#2. The light doesn’t come on until you walk in the room. Want to experience power? Start moving. – @EvansLegacy (via @mary_gunther)

#1. If you don’t like change, you’ll like irrelevance even less. – @CLALeader (via @geohil)

BONUS QUOTES

When an organization is stuck, it takes a courageous leader to take the first step.– @TimElmore (via @geohil)

Images are the oldest yet preferred form of communication today. – @TimElmore (via @geohil)

In organization culture, what gets rewarded gets done. Be intentional in what you celebrate. – @TimElmore (via @geohil)

It is no longer about a work/life balance for #Millennials but a work/life blend. – @TimElmore (via @geohil)

Character enables the #leader to do what is right even when it is difficult. – @TimElmore (via @geohil)

There is oneness with leadership and followership. One is not greater than the other. – @CLALeader (via @geohil)

God loves you too much to give you too much. God knows the weight of what He gives. – Jonathan Evans (via @TamiHeim)

When God brings about change in an organization, he begins with the leader. – @TimElmore (via @geohil)

Character communicates credibility, creates consistency and earns trust. – @TimElmore (via @StanKeithHC)

Leadership is about focus. Focus is what people need because most people live unfocused lives. – @TimElmore (via @geohil)

There’s a difference between biblical hope and human optimism. – @davidkinnaman (via @CLALeader)

Leaders see differently than followers. They see before, beyond and bigger than followers. – @TimElmore (via @mary_gunther)

 


 

 

Top 10 Leadership Quotes From Catalyst West 2015

Leadership quotes from Catalyst West 2015,

#CatalystWest 2015 is the Catalyst West conference, a training experience for the next generation of leaders. It was held in Southern California during April. Here are my top 10 leadership quotes from the conference (taken from #CatalystWest on Twitter):

#10. Leaders are designed to be dissatisfied with status quo. That’s not a problem, it’s a calling. – @AndyStanley (via @hinscheman)

#9. Failure isn’t a person, it’s a event. It doesn’t define who you are. – @craiggroeschel (via @PaulLuna)

#8. To reach people no one is reaching, we must do things no one is doing. – @craiggroeschel (via @BigJHuanosto)

#7. Your greatest contribution may not be something you do. It may be someone you raise. –  AndyStanley (via @FlippenAwesome)

#6. The thinking that gets you into a problem never gets you out; You’ve got to change your thinking. – @KentonBeshore (via @PaulLuna)

#5. Leaders don’t get into trouble all at once. It happens one step at a time. – @CraigGroeschel

#4. Many years from now, what would you like people to thank you for? – @AndyStanley (via @BigJHuanosto)

#3. Leaders don’t blame. Blame is an effective change-avoidance strategy. – @AndyStanley (via @HaleyVeturis)

#2. Organize to your vision statement. – @AndyStanley

#1. We don’t want to copy other leaders. We want to think like they think. – @CraigGroeschel (via @misterlib)

BONUS QUOTES

If you aren’t failing every now and then, you’re playing it too safe. – Craig Groeschel (via @Cory_Huffman)

Failure is not an option, it’s a necessity. Faith takes risks. @craiggroeschel (via @HaleyVeturis)

“Do not be afraid to fail. Failure is the 1st step towards #SUCCESS.” #CraigGroeschel (via @EfrenPenaPR)

“We are all one yes away from changing everything.” – @shelenebryan (via @misterlib)

True love involves doing; it requires action. – @shelenebryan (via @PaulLuna)

I’d rather fail God by thinking too big rather than insult Him by thinking too small. – @CraigGroeschel (via @PaulLuna)

I can’t think of a single hero of the faith that lived a comfortable life. – @shelenebryan (via @suannagutierrez)

If you are innovative, you are going to offend some Pharisees. – @CraigGroeschel (via @drewruiz85)

Failure is not an option, it’s a necessity. Faith takes risks. @craiggroeschel (via @HaleyVeturis)

The fear of failure drives you to lead without faith. – @craiggroeschel (via @vikramloya)

God guides by what He provides AND by what He WITHHOLDS. – @craiggroeschel (via @BethanyWymore)

There’s an inexorable correlation between leadership & change. – Andy Stanley (via @randysherwood)

Memorable is portable (make your communication memorable so people will take it with them.) – @AndyStanley

Limited resources are not a hindrance to innovation, but a catalyst to innovation. – @CraigGroeschel (via @PaulLuna)

Failure isn’t a person, it’s a event, it doesn’t define who you are. – @craiggroeschel (via @PaulLuna)

 


 

Advice For Parents On Social Media

Advice for parents on social media use by children. Orange Blog Rob Cizek

The Orange Conference is this month. I’ll be Atlanta and hope to see you there. This year Jon Acuff (@JonAcuff) is one of the speakers. He has remarkable advice for parents on social media use. Here are notes from his recent Orange session.

Technology is changing quickly right now. For 50 million people to get access to radio it took 30 years. For 50 million people to get access to TV it took 13 years. For 50 million people to get access to Instagram it took 18 months.

In our kids’ world, everything goes viral.

We need to redefine what social media means: Social media is any technology that lets you share something with someone else. This includes texting, comments on YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter.

Kids are growing up in technology. You don’t have to be as tech savvy as their kids. What should we tell parents about social media if we could only tell them a few things?

#1. TALK TO YOUR KIDS ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA BEFORE THEY USE IT. Sometimes we give the world a 15 year head start before we start to have the conversations. We have conversations earlier than We expect to have them.

Give them teachable moments along the way. Invite them into the conversation you’re having. One of the great things about Facebook is you can share photos with
Grandpa. Show them that what you share gets shared. When you post a photo online, it can never be deleted. It’s like getting a social tatoo; once you get it, it cannot be removed. It is public, it gets passed around. You need to be careful about it.

Even as an adult, there are restrictions. There are sites you cannot access at work or even home. Talk to them about Google. Google should be a family site. Never search for American Girl or Girl Doll.

The best time to talk to kids about social media is today. Start today, start appropriately. Adjust your conversation to their age. Don’t think that because they are tech
savvy, they are life savvy.

#2. BE CURIOUS. You don’t have to be an expert, but you need to be curious. Online life and real life are the same thing. Do not separate them! If your child was going to have a sleepover, you would want to meet them first, meet their parents and get to know them before you invite them into your house. You need to do the same thing with social media, get to know someone before you invite them into your digital house.

Build a real life filter by asking your child questions such as:

> What social sites are you using? (Snapchat and texting count too)

> What do your devices do? (Google what their devices do) It’s okay to let your kid be the expert in the conversation.

> What do your profiles do? (Can you write emails?) Don’t assume that everyone on a child site is a child.

> What devices do your friends have? Just because your child doesn’t have a certain device, doesn’t mean their friend won’t. You need to have that conversation as a family.

> Are you creating any content and where are you posting it?

> What are your friends posting?

Click here for more on how Jon Acuff asks these questions.

Social media keyboard.3. LEVERAGE SOCIAL MEDIA FOR ITS POTENTIAL GOOD. There is a lot of beauty available through social media and the internet, we need to see the good.

Social media is going to start making a difference in college applications. You can’t just change your name so you can’t be found by a college.

80% of job interviewers Google you before you come in for an interview now. Leave a good digital footprint. It matters for college and it matters for your job. What will we find about our kids in a Google search 15 years from now?

Help kids plug into what the church is doing. Text encouraging things to your small group. Evangelism is possible through social media.

Source for where a kid can practice their passion. (Like LEGO, photography, writing). If you want to connect with someone who does something you love, send them a short email asking one question. It takes longer to say no, than to just answer their question.

Find a Kickstarter campaign from someone in your church and help them out. Have a life that’s not just focused on you.

4. GO DARK AS A FAMILY. Don’t take a week off of Twitter and then get on and write 10 blog posts in a row about what that week was like.

The devices go to bed when we go to bed. No using them at night. No devises during meal times.

Go to a water park or some place they can’t use their phone and have to be present.

Social media children.5. REMEMBER WHAT’S AT STAKE. There is more at stake than technology. Adolescence is when you learn how to communicate with people, and they are learning how to be absent when they are present.

Where does it say that relationship is supposed to be efficient? We’re learning how to forget to communicate.

There is anxiety. Loneliness is at stake with our kids. Sometimes the kids that get left out will pretend they got the text too.

Self-esteem is at stake. They have a physical measurement (likes) that they use.

The internet is developing constantly.

 

MORE INFORMATION

6 Expert Tips For Keeping Your Kids Safe On Social Media From Mashable

Social Networking Advice For Parents

What Parents Must Know About Social Media From WebMD

 

A special thank you to @CherylKneeland for her contributions to this post!


 

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The Top 6 Leadership Lessons From Visiting The Holy Land

6 leadership lessons we can learn from the Holy Land.

Have you ever dreamed about visiting the Holy Land? You can literally walk in the steps of some of history’s greatest leaders. I recently traveled to Israel and Jordan. These modern-day countries can teach us valuable leadership wisdom.

Railroad bridge under construction.

New infrastructure, such as railroads like the one being built here, are linking two economies and strengthening relationships.

#6. IT’S HARD TO HATE A PARTNER (ISRAEL AND JORDAN): These neighboring countries have a deeply contentious history. Even so their leaders have agreed to new water, rail and trade projects. Both countries will be wealthier and more stable . . . because it’s tough to hate a partner.

Trees In Desert

In Israel, reclaimed fresh water creates farms in the desert. These trees produce dates.

 

 

#5. COMMON SENSE IS A POWERFUL TOOL (TEL AVIV): In less than 75 years Israel has gone from mostly arid desert to having meaningful agriculture. Common sense water projects are the reason why. Desalinization plants have been built to make fresh water for people to use. Their waste water is then cleaned and used for agriculture. Don’t over-think your problems. This simple, common sense leadership initiative gives the country the water and food it needs to grow.

#4. STAND UP FOR YOURSELF (ISRAEL):  Israel is a tiny country (8 million people in a space smaller than New Jersey). Even so, it is bordered by four countries that, at times, have been enemies. Setting aside the political issues, one thing is clear . . . Israel strongly believes in itself. It is willing to take a stand even if it doesn’t see the odds in its favor. It tenaciously builds infrastructure, security, business and governmental systems to promote its long term success. An organization needs more than good ideas. It needs a strong sense of itself and a commitment to systems that make things happen.

#3. THE COMMON GOOD TRUMPS PERSONAL AGENDAS (ISRAEL): Drive around Israel and one thing is inescapable – industriousness for the common good. Roads, schools, museums, homes, factories and tourist sites have been developed in just a few decades. Leaders are clearly trying to do something good for a nation . . . and not simply serve their personal agendas.

Petra

Petra – Jordan’s remarkable city where buildings are carved in stone.

#2. IF YOU’VE GOT IT, DON’T HIDE IT (PETRA): You would recognize the most visited place in Jordan . . . and that’s no accident. Petra is an ancient city with buildings carved into sandstone canyon walls. Leaders in Jordan deliberately arrange for Petra to be featured in movies like Indiana Jones and Transformers. That publicity brings tens of thousands of visitors each year, and big money to the Jordanian economy. Shrewd leaders understand that it’s important to get the word out about their organization’s strengths. Once people know about them, they will go out of their way to experience something special.

 

The Dome of the Rock Muslim shrine sits immediately above the site of the Temple.

The Dome of the Rock Muslim shrine sits immediately above the site of The Temple.

#1. CREATE SAFETY FOR THOSE WHO DON’T AGREE WITH YOU (JERUSALEM): Israel is a Jewish nation. Yet the Catholic Church is the largest private landholder in the country. In the capitol city of Jerusalem, Muslims, Jews and Christians live side-by-side. They share some of the most contested real estate on Earth. There is a Muslim shrine above the Jewish people’s most holy site (the Temple).  The various authorities have made it safe for everyone to experience Jerusalem. It may seem counter-intuitive, but good leaders create stability and growth by welcoming disparate voices.

 

A personal note . . . I put off going to the Holy Land for a long time. It’s easy to do because of logistics, cost and political instability. However, the trip was far more enriching that any other trip I’ve taken. If a Holy Land trip is on your bucket list, I encourage you to make it happen. It’s worth it.

How To Have A Great Social Media Strategy – Tips From @JonAcuff

Practical social media strategy tips from Jon Acuff

Jon AcuffDo you want to get the most from your time on social media? One of the best people we can learn from is Jon Acuff. He’s timely, smart and funny. He knows how to develop a platform and bring value to those who follow him.

Jon spoke at the Orange Conference in Atlanta and shared his social media tips and tricks. Below you will find great notes from Jon’s session taken by my friend @CherylKneeland.

Orange Blog Rob CizekThis year’s Orange Conference will be held in Atlanta during the last week of April. This is the last week for registration. I’ll be there blogging the conference and would love to connect with you. Click here for more information on how to attend this year’s Orange Conference.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA ADVICE FROM JON ACUFF

How do we engage in social media, navigate it? A few words underscore what Jon tries to do in all social media interactions:

Empathy: Understanding what someone needs and acting on it. As leaders we serve the community we live in.

Generosity: Giving more than what’s expected. People always remember your generosity and they never forget your greed. Be generous with time, content and re-tweeting others.

Stubbornness: You have to be stubborn, keep going. It never stops. Social Media will always be there, the exact platform may change a little, but the interactions on the internet are here to stay.

PRINCIPLES FOR EFFECTIVE USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA

Figure out where to plant a flag. Go everywhere. Google+ seems like a ghost town to many social media experts; however, for some it’s working. Jon planted a flag there, to let him at least establish his name there. Go to as many places as you can.

Namechk.com shows you instantly where your name is still available on various social media sites.

Recent college graduates have moved into Instagram and Snapchat. Facebook is old to them.

Get out of the way. It’s about starting the conversation, not owning the conversation. Maybe you create a private Facebook group. Jon created a group called dreamers and builders. Be careful not to own everything, the ego sets in. You want to create a space for people to connect with each other and share with each other, building relationships; do not make it so everyone can only respond directly to you or through you.

Be part of community. Pinterest is great for this. One out of every three women uses Pinterest. You can have shared boards. Let everyone be part of the community.

Don’t over-commit. Don’t do everything, just because it’s out there. He created a Tumblr account and realized he didn’t know much about it or have time to maintain it. It’s okay to ease into social media. He choose to stick to his blog, Twitter, and Instagram.

Use the accordion effect for promotions. This means you need to create content that’s helpful or funny, it’s just content; DO NOT do all promotional tweets/posts! A promo is promoting something specific. If you want to promo a lot you MUST start doing all the other posts a lot too. (Otherwise, you’ll be ignored or un-friended/deleted).

Don’t treat your social accounts like Las Vegas. What happens on social media does not stay on social media.

Why is it that people with the most grace filled bios on social media are the meanest? When you say things on social media that are rude or egotistical, people are watching and they will look into you, see who you are. Don’t be the Christian that types a nice bio and then acts like the biggest hypocrite.

We previously used social media to document moments that were created.  Now we create moments to use in social media.

Think multi-platform. When you have an idea, think of the other platforms to see if it would work somewhere else too. You can turn a tweet into an image and put it on Instragram and Pinterest. Often we waste an idea on one platform.

People’s attention spans are not getting longer. We want to fast forward everything.

Be honest. We have to be honest about what we are posting/tweeting/photographing. Are we doing it because we’re trying to serve the audience or because we are celebrating ourselves?

Learn the difference between satire and mockery: Satire is humor with a purpose. Mockery just causes a wound.

Write about issues, but not individuals. How am I an expert on someone I’ve never talked to, never seen live, never met? (I’m NOT).

Jon’s goal is to seed the clouds for ideas and conversations instead of chumming the water for sharks. You can write about controversy and get a lot of hits real fast, but it’s not worth it to be rude or mean.

Blogging: Never come up with categories before you write. The best way to figure out your voice is to write. Social Media is a great place to experiment because it’s not permanent, it’s not an encyclopedia.

Have some fun with it, experiment: Go slow, when you start a new blog, don’t post constantly or set high expectations to blog multiple times a day. Sometimes blogging sucks, you feel like you have a deadline. Jon posts 3-4 times a week.

You don’t control how people read your blog, you control how you write it: Sometimes people will interpret things differently, don’t try to control that. Share the things God puts on your heart.

Always use a picture on your post. Your audience wants a short idea and a picture.

Don’t end it with a question if you write something heavy or you don’t want to start a conversation about something (usually personal): Questions are a great tool if you want to start a conversation with people about a topic and watch them interact… you very well may get a new idea for a blog post from this.

Is this something that I really care about, that I need to say something about? Some topics are too big to put in a tweet or a blog, some topics are better for a face to face conversation.

Deep theological conversations are weird on a blog. It’s okay for some things to be taken off-line. Especially when it’s something that you and others will be really impassioned about.

Feel free to use old content.

Always test anything you hear on the internet with your community, sometimes it doesn’t fit where you are.

Treat your blog like a magazine, have a content calendar.

Guest post, but figure out what the blog is really about. Don’t repeat what they’ve already talked about or post something that is completely irrelevant to the blog.

Twitter: Think about your audience. What are they going through during that week? Tweet some funny things, but try to tweet some serious things too. Mix it up. Only tweet or post things that you would talk to your Senior Pastor about. Don’t be weird…”I don’t want to sound like a stalker, but your bushes are prickly.” Do not do a public announcement of unfollowing, it’s like the middle finger of tweeting. Jon doesn’t say “repost” if he’s repeating his own content. Make your profile complete. Pick a photo like actually looks like you, don’t keep the egg.

Public speaking: Change your tone, you have to have ups and down. Don’t be monotone online either. Always mellow or always loud is not so good.

Facebook: Millions of people are on there. Not everyone sees what you post. They limit who sees your content. Only 10-15% of followers will see what you post. They pick and choose who sees it. You may have to post over and over to get it out to more people. You have to over-communicate. Create private groups. Sometimes your group needs a little wall, it’s amazing what people will say because they know others aren’t there. It feels a little safer. Would a private group help? Do a poll on Facebook. Example: “Parents what are the things you are most concerned about going into this school year?” And let them add their own to the list. It’s okay to ask them what they want.

Instagram: Always credit your sources. Do visual countdowns; you can use picklab to add words and numbers to your photos. Use a photo of the event that’s coming each day up until in the event. (Example: Fall Family Fun Night 30 Days away! with photo of pumpkin… FFFN 25 days away w/photo of the event flyer… FFFN 20 days away w/photo of spaghetti…etc.) It’s all or nothing. You can’t follow only some of a person’s pictures… you get the all-access pass regardless of if it’s what you want to have. There is a balance of selfies. Don’t take a picture of every angle of your face. Make a diary or scrapbook if you want something private or all about you. Know that it’s a window not a mirror. Don’t be egotistical!

Pinterest: It’s not a dead-end. When you pin-it, it can lead them to something. You can attach a link. In general, the worst people online are the peopel that just got engaged because they post like they just invented love. You can follow just one board. If you create a church Pinterest page you don’t have to follow the whole church, you could follow just the age group of your child or a certain ministry area. It’s about your personality, your images. It’s about the content, not the content creator. You can co-manage it with others from your church.

What are your best social media strategies and tips? Leave them in a comment below.

 


 

Jon Acuff at Orange Atlanta with Jeff Foxworthy and Reggie Joiner.

Jon Acuff (right) at Orange Atlanta with Jeff Foxworthy (center) and Reggie Joiner (left).

 

 

How To Create Safe Meetings That Encourage Authentic Communication

Tips for creating safe meetings that encourage authentic communication and relationships. 

Do you want more effective meetings? Do you want to encourage genuine and authentic communication between your team members?  How about if the topic is controversial or difficult?

Start creating safe environments by being a facilitator. As the leader don’t dictate or teach. People open up when they are asked questions. When leading a meeting, draw people out as a facilitator. Ensure they feel heard and valued as they respond.

In addition to facilitating, set up safe meeting ground rules for the group. Present these at the start of each meeting and hold people to them.

SAFE MEETING GROUND RULES

SAFE GROUP: It is everyone’s responsibility, using grace and emotional intelligence, to create a place where everyone can be real, open and honest.

USE “I” STATEMENTS: It’s easy to talk about the issues of others. However, this is a place to put ourselves on the table. Use “I” sentences rather than “them”, “us”, “we”, “the organization”, etc. Do not purport to represent a group or other people.

ASK QUESTIONS RATHER THAN MAKE STATEMENTS.

meetingVEGAS RULE: What is shared here stays here. This conversation is confidential.

LISTEN: Really listen and hear what is said. Avoid “thinking ahead” about how you might respond or about what’s next. Allow the speaker to pause without jumping in. Allow for uncomfortable silence while people process. Give the speaker time and space to express 100% of what they’re thinking.

ONE PERSON SPEAKS AT A TIME (WHILE EVERYONE LISTENS): No side conversations or cross talk.

DON’T OVERSHARE: Be sensitive about the amount of time you use when sharing. Avoid unnecessary “rabbit trails” and excessive detail.

NON-VERBALS MATTER: Maintain an open posture, friendly countenance, and an approachable tone. 80% of communication is non-verbal.

NO FIXING OR RESCUING: When people are sharing something personal, there can be a tendency to immediately provide counsel or condolences. This stops the sharing. Avoid trying to fix or rescue people.

DISAGREEMENT DOES NOT EQUAL DISUNITY: When it comes to tough subjects, not everyone is going to agree. That’s okay. We can still respect and love each other. We can still fellowship and worship together. Differentiate between tensions to be managed and problems to be solved.

DIFFERENCES MATTER: Loving and respecting each other does not imply that we devalue our differences. Differences are important and meaningful.

GIVE GRACE: It’s possible that people won’t make their points as well as they would like (or use incorrect terms). It’s possible that emotion might overpower content. That’s okay. We’re big enough to give grace.

ENTHUSIASM VARIES: Not everyone has the same level of enthusiasm for this conversation. Some may be excited about it, while others would rather not discuss it. Be respectful of how others may be feeling.

EVERYONE GETS A PASS: Everyone has the right not to participate. Politely say, “I’m going to take a pass on this one.” No one should force anyone else into participation.

TURN OFF MOBILE DEVICES: This is a crucial conversation. Let’s be fully present. There will be plenty of time during the breaks to check messages.

IT’S OKAY TO…

​It’s okay to take care of yourself.
​It’s okay to take time away. You don’t have to do anything.
​It’s okay to be overwhelmed.
​It’s okay to ask for help

These safe communication guidelines aren’t entirely original. Many of the ideas have been assembled from a variety of credible sources. How do you create safe spaces for people to communicate? Leave a comment below.


 

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Escapism: Leadership Lesson From Jimmy Buffett Syndrome

Leadership insights from our desire for escape, escapism and “Jimmy Buffett Syndrome.”

As a leader, do you have moments where you just want to chuck it all and leave? It’s a perfectly normal feeling. We want to escape. We want all the problems to just go away.

But, of course, we don’t leave. As responsible people we lead through the difficulty, sometimes at a high personal cost. Leaders who flee are weak. But does that mean escape has no place in the life of a leader?

I used to live in a picture-postcard part of Florida. As a hobby I had a boat and ran Florida’s most-visited boating website. Frequently I would receive emails from northerners. They would share how they wanted to leave their bad weather and personal problems. In Florida we called this “Jimmy Buffett Syndrome” . . . the desire to leave it all behind and escape to somewhere pleasant.

Tropical Escape‘She came down from Cincinnati.
It took her three days on a train.
Lookin’ for some peace and quiet; hoped to see the sun again.”
– Jimmy Buffett,  “Fins”

THE DANGERS OF ESCAPISM

Make no mistake. As leaders it is our job to handle the tough problems. It’s the reason we are provided with the “perks” of leadership. (Simon Sinek has a great lesson on this called “Why Leaders Eat Last” at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ReRcHdeUG9Y)

Organizations will sometimes grant sabbaticals to leaders in trouble. It is hoped that a few months away will clear the leader’s head and recharge them. It usually doesn’t work. Running never makes things better.

This is because many times the problem is with us. Our personal challenges follow us no matter where we go. There is no place we can escape if we are not competent or lack organizational/people skills. It’s far better to stay and fix these problems head-on.

THE BENEFITS OF ESCAPE

There are times when a leader needs healthy escape. Competent leaders operate at high velocity and under stress. That’s okay . . . so long as the leader is able to get a meaningful break. Taking two straight weeks of vacation each year can really help. Typically the first week is spent disconnecting and the second week is spent recharging. If you have never taken two weeks off, I highly encourage you to try it. It can make a big difference in your performance and well-being throughout the year. This is a positive escape for leaders.

Back to our beach bards . . . When Jimmy Buffett was young, he wanted to be a country star. He moved to Nashville and gave it his best. When things didn’t work out, he went to the Florida Keys. There he developed the Caribbean/folk/country/pop style that made him famous. But Jimmy Buffett doesn’t sell music. He sells escape. He’s been so successful that other singers like Alan Jackson and Zac Brown have joined in. Here’s what we learn from them: Healthy escape isn’t about changing place. It’s a state of mind.

In his song “Toes”, Zac Brown sings about returning from a beach vacation only to find true escape at his local lake:

Adios and vaya con dios.

Going home now to stay.

Just gonna drive up by the lake.

I put my (rear) in a lawn chair, toes in the clay

Not a worry in the world . . . Life is good today. Life is good today.

-Zac Brown “Toes”

There are many ways to “clear out” without having to get on an airplane. I know one senior leader who likes to go fishing. His mind is clear when he’s out on the water with a pole in his hand. For another senior leader, cycling is his thing. The only time he really clears-out is on a long bike ride. For me, it’s grabbing a kayak after work and going for a sunset paddle. There are many things that will help us to refresh if we’ll just be intentional to do them. Healthy escape isn’t about changing place. It’s a state of mind. That’s the real cure for Jimmy Buffett Syndrome.

Come on in the water it’s nice… find yourself a little slice.

When you lose yourself… you find the key to paradise

-Zac Brown & Jimmy Buffett “Knee Deep”

 

What’s your healthy escape? Leave a comment below.


 

Beach Escape

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5 Critically Important Things To Know About People Outside The Church Today

What you should know about people who are outside the church and do not attend church services.

Imagine going to a conference and only hearing the best presentations. That’s what we are able to do with great notes. In this case, the notes come from @CherylKneeland. Cheryl took notes at Carey Nieuwhof’s excellent presentation on unchurched people (presented at this year’s Orange Tour). Here are five things we should all know about people in our culture.

5 CRITICALLY IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT PEOPLE OUTSIDE THE CHURCH

Presented by @cnieuwhof, Orange Tour 2014

A growing number of people are saying “no” to church.

It used to be pretty easy to break down the walls, but it’s more difficult than ever to connect with unchurched people. It’s not just hostility anymore, it’s indifference.

Among 18-34 year olds, 63% said they have no interest in ever having a conversation with anyone involved in church. They are indifferent to us.

Many people have learned to live comfortably without God. They think it’s fine to have no church in the community. There is an entire culture that has learned to be successful by turning its back on God.

5 Characteristics of People Outside the Church Today

1. They feel less guilty than you think. People just don’t feel guilty anymore. The average person will feel as guilty about not attending church on Sundays as you feel about not attending synagogue on Saturdays. They don’t think about it. It’s not on their radar.

There are a lot of people that haven’t left your church, they just don’t attend very often (maybe just once a year) and they don’t feel guilty about it. If you are relying on GUILT as a motivator, good luck. Guilt is a short-term motivator. Guilt is seeing its final days as a motivator to get people to attend church.

2. People can’t come back to something they never knew. We have assumed for years that people will be back to church when they have kids, but it’s not true. Revivals are dead, they have stopped working in many places. Revival means that you’ve had something that was alive, but is now dead. However, many of these people have nothing to revive. They don’t know the Bible. If your curriculum is based on a story that you’re assuming they know, it’s not going to work. Assume that everyone is starting at step one. Create a discipleship path that keeps going. Maturity takes time and you have to be willing to give people time.

3. Most people are spiritual. One of the things unchurched people tell us is that the church believes that people who don’t go to church are not spiritual. But that’s simply not true. If you build your approach around the belief that people who don’t attend your church don’t believe, you’ll offend them. They absolutely believe, they may not know what they believe, but they believe something.

Early Rome was a very religious empire. Athens was religious, they just weren’t Christian. Your starting point with unchurched people is very important. We typically start with theology. And something inside of us sometimes gets upset when they don’t have all the theology figured out.

What if you responded to their questions with, “That’s very interesting, tell me more.”? Listen to them. Lifestyle issues, sexual identity, sex outside of marriage, sexual ethics. If you start there, how do those conversations usually go? They never go well.

Jesus never started with theology, He started with ministry. Look at the Samaritan woman, look at everyone he talked to. Jesus changed people’s lives because he started with ministry NOT theology. He asks people to come alongside Him. Just come on, hang out. Over a number of years, that group of outsiders is transformed. The Pharisees started with theology. The religious people started with what was wrong, Jesus started with people.

4. Unchurched people expect authenticity in leaders. They just want real. They want to know that sometimes when you pray, you think you’re talking to the ceiling. It’s just the number of times that I felt God was present in my prayers far outweighs the times I felt I was talking to the ceiling.

When you’re authentic and transparent, instead of talking at people you walk alongside people. You look at God’s word together. People admire your strengths, but they resonate with your weaknesses. When you speak out of your weaknesses, people feel like they get you. . . that they could hang out with you.

5. Unchurched people are looking for partners. They are:

> Looking for what to experience next.
> Looking for people that don’t know all the answers and who can be an empathetic mentor.
> Looking for people in the same place (peers).
> Looking for family.
> Looking for swim lessons, preschools, peers, partners…

The reality is that they don’t think that the church can help. What if your church was known as the premier place to go to when you have children… the best place to raise kids of faith and character? What if we start convincing them that the church can help?

So What Can We Do?

1. Say YES to friendship. How many unchurched people do you know? We need to be intentional. We need to do some things to get in the lives of unchurched people.

2. Say YES to dialogue. What about real dialogue, what about real faith? Monologues just don’t do that. People need someone to talk to, someone to hear their story.

3. Say YES to change. It’s hard. Even though God doesn’t change, we should. What do we need to do differently today in order to reach the people you want tomorrow? If you experiment you open up the door to more potential.

Take a few minutes today to think about church like an unchurched person would. Based on what you see, give yourself permission to do things differently. This is how we better connect people to God and how we stay relevant.


 

Top 10 Leadership Quotes From Catalyst One Day 2014

Leadership quotes from the Catalyst One Day conference 2014.

Catalyst One Day is a leadership training event. Each year Andy Stanley and Craig Groeschel make several tour stops around the country. Here are the top 10 leadership quotes from this year’s Seattle tour stop:

#10. We give up some things we love for some things we love more. – @CraigGroeschel

#9. What you care about determines what you can be trusted with. – @CraigGroeschel

#8. You’re greatest contribution may not be what you do but someone you raise.  – @AndyStanley

#7. Never say “Our people don’t.” Say “We have not led our people to.” – @CraigGroeschel

#6. Wise time management doesn’t mean you do more, but you do more of what matters most.  – @CraigGroeschel

#5. The difference between the values you embrace & the life you live equals the frustration you experience.  – @CraigGroeschel

#4. General ideas do not move people to specific action. Specific communication results in specific action. – @CraigGroeschel

#3. If you like your organization’s culture, hire from within. If you don’t like your culture, hire from the outside. – @CraigGroeschel

#2. If you delegate tasks you build followers. If you delegate authority you build leaders. – @CraigGroeschel

#1. People would rather follow a leader who is always real rather than always right. – @CraigGroeschel

BONUS LEADERSHIP QUOTES

One of our top goals is to lead our staff and volunteers to think like owners rather than employees. – @CraigGroeschel

The result of poor time management is well-intentioned leaders who constantly allow the urgent to overwhelm the important. – @CraigGroeschel

Leaders don’t get into trouble all at once. It happens one step at a time. – @CraigGroeschel

The days are long. The years are short. – Sandra Stanley

Create a family that wants to be together even when it doesn’t have to be together.  – @AndyStanley

Prioritize your marriage on your calendar (not just in your heart). – @AndyStanley

I will never sacrifice my family on the alter of the church.  – @CraigGroeschel

You have one life to make a difference in this world. (Use your time wisely.) – @CraigGroeschel

The younger generation does not respond to cool. They respond to people who care. – @CraigGroeschel

Click here for more information on Catalyst One Day conferences. Click here for information about the annual Catalyst multi-day conferences in Atlanta, Dallas and Southern California.

Travel Tips: 8 New Things That Will Improve Your Trip

8 travel tips to improve your next business trip or vacation.

Leaders travel. It’s been an unusually busy travel season for me. I’ve enjoyed discovering some new things that can improve our travel experiences:

USB Battery For Travel.TRAVEL TIP #1 – EXTERNAL USB BATTERY: Your phone can be in almost continual use when you travel. You’re lucky to get through most of the day before the battery dies. For $30-$75 you can get a rechargeable battery with a USB port. Plug in your phone during a flight and you will arrive with it fully charged. If you get a battery with 2 USB ports you can plug in your tablet, game or music player in addition to your phone.

Don’t wait for your mobile device battery to drain down before connecting it to the external battery. Plug the phone in to the external battery even when the phone is fully charged. You can then use the phone all you want and the phone battery will remain full for later use. When buying a battery, be sure to compare its “mH” rating. This is the amount of power it can store. The higher the “mH” the better. I like batteries rated with at least 10,000 mH.

TRAVEL TIP #2 – EXTENSION CORD: A simple household extension cord makes a huge difference. Keep it in your carry-on and pull it out in airports. You can recharge your phone or laptop without having to sit on the floor. An extension cord also allows you to plug in 3 things. This comes in handy in hotels where there are usually fewer outlets than you need.

TRAVEL TIP #3 – FOUR-WHEEL CARRY-ON: I replaced my traditional two-wheel carry-on suitcase with one that has four wheels. What a difference! It doesn’t fall over and my briefcase sits nicely on top as I wheel it through the airport. Be sure to get one with a solid handle. The four-wheel design puts a lot more strain on the handle; cheap handles won’t last long. Also look for a suitcase that expands. It seems like we always come back with more stuff than what we had when we left.

TRAVEL TIP #4 – AIRLINE APPS: These mobile phone apps make it easy to check in from anywhere and can be used as an electronic boarding pass. No more trying to print boarding passes at the hotel business center!

iPad Keyboard CoverTRAVEL TIP #5 – TABLET WITH KEYBOARD COVER: It’s hard to open a laptop in an airline seat, especially if the person in front of you reclines. A tablet paired with a keyboard cover fits nicely on a tray table, even if the seat in front of you is reclined. I wrote this post in just this situation!

 

Bluetooth SpeakerTRAVEL TIP#6: PORTABLE BLUETOOTH SPEAKERS: These are compact, rechargeable speakers that pair with your phone or tablet via Bluetooth. You can listen to music, movies or make a hands-free call. They are great for listening to music when you are getting ready in the morning or watching a movie on your tablet. I chose ECOXBT because it’s compact, waterproof and double as a speakerphone.

TRAVEL TIP #7 – QUALITY HEADPHONES: Smaller earbuds have all but replaced larger headphones. However, earbuds can be uncomfortable and they don’t block external noise very well. Recently a particularly loud infant was crying in the airline seat behind me. Earbuds could not block the noise. I found that a decent set of headphones did a much better job of eliminating cabin noise, were more comfortable for longer periods of time and sounded better. When buying headphones here are a few things to consider:

Beats Headphones> On-the-ear headphones: These are smaller headphones that rest on top of your ear. They are more compact and easier to carry with you. However, they can press your ear to your head and can become uncomfortable with time. They also may not block external noise that well.

> Over-the-ear headphones: These are larger, but they completely cover your ear. This more effectively blocks external noise. They also press against your head (not your ear) which makes them comfortable for longer periods of time.

> Noise-cancelling vs standard headphones: Some headphones have a noise-cancelling feature. This helps mask external noise. However, it requires that the headphone be powered by a battery (that can go dead during a trip). It also affects the sound quality of the music. It’s a good idea to test-listen before you buy.

> Wireless headphones: Many companies now offer wireless blue tooth headphones. This eliminates being tethered by a cord, which is nice on a crowded plane. However, Bluetooth technology can affect sound quality and requires a battery. Again, it’s wise to try before you buy.

Decent quality headphones can be expensive ($100-$400). However, so is travel. Even the best headphones cost less than a plane ticket. They can significantly improve your travel experience every time you leave home. If you don’t mind buying used, you can find nearly new premium headphones on Craigslist for about half the price.

I chose Beats Pro headphones. I like that Beats provides the best deep bass. The Pro model doesn’t need a battery. The over-the-ear design is comfortable and does a good job of blocking external noise. The only downside is that, even when folded, they are pretty big. I can also recommend Bose Quite Comfort 15 (QC-15) headphones for their excellent sound quality.

iPod 160GBTRAVEL TIP #8 – LARGE CAPACITY MUSIC/VIDEO PLAYER: It’s nice that media files can be stored on our phones. However, our phones also need to store a lot of other information (like apps and photos). That means capacity for media can be quite limited. For traveling I purchased a 160GB iPod that holds my entire music collection and dozens of movies. It’s compact to carry and allows me to bring a wealth of entertainment for long trips. It also saves me from draining my phone when using media.

Another way to take all your music with you is to upload it to Google Play (free). Using an app on your mobile device you can stream your entire music collection to where you are.

Travel is a great way to enrich your life and career. Investing in the things that make travel better means you’ll want to travel more. . . and that can pay huge dividends.

What travel tips make your life better? Share them in a comment below.


 

Orange Tour Notes 2014

Orange Tour Notes 2014 – summaries from various sessions.

Orange is one of the best resources I recommend to churches. Orange curriculum, books and conferences help leaders in executive, children and youth ministries. This April, 5000 people (including me) will descend on Atlanta for the Orange Conference 2015. Registration begins this week.

Orange also does regional one-day conferences. Those events present much of what is taught in the main conference in Atlanta. To get a feel for what Orange is all about, here are notes (courtesy Cheryl Kneeland) from this year’s Orange Tour Seattle.

Orange TourOPENING SESSION: ORANGE TOUR – SAY ‘YES’ TO THE NEXT GENERATION

Speaker: Jon Acuff @JonAcuff

YES feels like a small word, but there is no such thing as a small YES to our big God. YES is a comma, it starts adventures. There is no period after YES

Things are always changing in ministry, you have to say YES to change, YES to bravery…

Not the movie version of bravery; the real stuff. Bravery feels like wanting to cry, wanting to throw up, not sleeping. Revival of fear is not failure. You have to be brave in the hard moments.

God, what you’ve given me is what I need to say YES to. God is not surprised or disappointed by the size of your ministry.

Sometimes it’s hard to find funny things to write about, and other times a woman sitting next to me brings a tambourine to church. At some point during the morning she thought, “This church is missing tambourine and I’m the person to bring it.: :-)

You said YES to community. We care about kids, were not alone in that. You came to this space and said YES to community.

You said YES to the future. You believe that this child matters; you pour into them even if you don’t know if it’s sticking. People like YOU, love a child before they love themselves. You believe in them before they believe in themselves.

You said YES to being present, YES to being with kids, YES to all the things that you do, but ultimately YES to the next generation. THANK YOU for saying YES to Students, YES to children, YES to the next generation.

OPENING SESSION CONTINUED

Speaker: Reggie Joiner @ReggieJoiner

When you say YES to the next generation, you say YES to drama.

You can KNOW God
You can become a Christian in a MOMENT
The BIBLE is all true
TRUST leads to stronger faith
You should ENJOY going to church
Your BELIEFS matter
God has an IDEAL
GOD is good

It’s possible that how we handle those truths, it will affect the next generation. We have to think about how we hand off those truths to them.

It wasn’t because what we told kids wasn’t true, because it is… or that we didn’t teach them the gospel, because we did. What we do can give kids a concept of God that is bigger or smaller. If we’re not careful we can cause a child to have a shallow faith.

Sometimes in our zeal to fight for what is true, we don’t fight for the tensions that actually connect those truths to what is real.

When we take the tension out, we remove the energy, the influence, the power we’re supposed to have as leaders. Does mercy water down justice or vice-verse? No, it highlights it. The lack of tension diminishes the truth. Somehow along the way truth can loose it’s potency.

Sometimes a truth can lose clarity when it’s divorced from the reality of the other truths that amplify it.

Tension doesn’t make a truth less true, it makes it more real.

If you don’t say yes to the tension, kids will start thinking God is a lot smaller than he really is.

YES you can KNOW God AND YES God is a MYSTERY. Decide that God is bigger than your perspective.

YES you can become a Christian in a MOMENT… and YES it will take FOREVER to figure out what that means. At the end of the day, this is hard, it’s not a quick fix. God is bigger than your experience.

YES the BIBLE is all true… and YES everything true about LIFE is not in the Bible.

YES TRUST leads to stronger faith… and YES DOUBT can lead to stronger faith. If you don’t let your kids process their own doubt, they’ll never own their own faith. At the end of the day don’t worry if you’re kids express doubt, be worried if they don’t.

YES you should enjoy going to CHURCH… and YES you can enjoy living in the WORLD. I think God made the quarterback and God made the country singer. Don’t make things of the world the enemy. God is so much bigger than just your church.

YES your BELIEFS matter… and YES PEOPLE matter more. Take your cues from Jesus.

YES God has an IDEAL… and YES God uses BROKEN people. It’s not about us, it’s about God and what God can do through us.

YES GOD is good… and YES YOU should do good. At the end of the day, you are the best way that kids will learn how to do good. God is in YOU doing what you can’t do without Him. We don’t have an excuse not to do good in the world around us.

If you don’t say YES to the tension, kids could grow up to become “that” Christian.

Don’t be irresponsible.
Don’t get stuck.
Don’t be a jerk.
Don’t be weird.
Don’t be threatened.
Don’t be an idiot.
Don’t be shallow.
Don’t be arrogant.

—-

Orange Tour - Seattle Northshore Christian ChurchORANGE TOUR: SESSION TWO – SAY ‘YES’ TO CHANGE

Speaker: Carey Nieuwhof @cnieuwhof

Say YES to changing how you think about change. Anytime you hear the word change, you have an emotional reaction. As a leader, you think change is awesome, but to everyone else it’s awful.

We want to do everything we can to impact the next generation. Sometimes you have to sacrifice what is for the sake of what could be.

The greatest enemy to your future success is your current success.

Are you defeating what could end up being your transformation?

If you are really going to say YES to the next generation, you have to change your approach to change.

SESSION TWO CONTINUED

Speaker: Reggie Joiner @ReggieJoiner

When you say YES to the next generation, you say YES to messy.

As ministry leaders, you’re saving lives simply because you are doing life with them.

Say YES to the tension that exists between what is true and what is real if you want to have influence in the next generation.

We have to be intentional if we want to keep the momentum. You need to fight to get the tension that you need in your ministry.

Say YES to the tension that exists between what is core and what is dynamic if you want momentum in your ministry. It’s all connected to the great commission Jesus gave us. You will not be successful as a church simply because you have a mission. You will be successful because you have a strategy. You are driven by a mission but you succeed because of a strategy.

You are called to Pastor but you are required to lead. You should invest in insiders but you should prioritize for outsiders. You have to intentional about seeking out those on the outside.

What happens at church matters but what happens at home matters more. Effective ministries attract a crowd but effective ministries lead to community. Are you so wired to attract a crowd that you don’t know how to do community? Do you understand the power of a circle and the power of community?

You will never be able to out-produce what the culture produces. You can’t compete with that. But they can’t out-community you. They can’t create a safe place for a kid to show up and have a dialogue with someone who knows their name and knows them.

Teachers expand how you think but Coaches empower what you do. As long as you only teach in your church, your ministry will be limited to you. But when you coach and
empower leaders to take on a role in ministry, something fundamentally changes.
It’s just as important for you to lean into adults as it is for you to teach kids on a platform. You need to influence those who influence kids and teenagers (adults & parents).

The scope of your influence is determined by the success of your leaders. If you can help the small group leader and the parent, then you win. You all win. If you want every small group leader (SGL) and parent to win every week, then you have to coach them every week.

Think about how you can become a coach in the lives of the parents and SGL. Parents and SGL’s don’t need more content they need better cues.

Somewhere along the way, you need to think about there are not a lot of good things that happen monthly, they happen weekly. You can’t build relationships monthly. You can’t date monthly, it doesn’t work. You can’t disciple someone monthly.

3 Questions Coaches should answer every week to empower SGLs and parents:
What do they need to know?
Why do they need to know it?
When do they need to know it?

Less is more, it’s a matter of timing and relevance. It matters when it matters, it doesn’t matter if it’s true.

What if you take 2 hours of your week and you invest in parents and SGLs every week. Your mission is not to influence the next generation, it’s to influence those that influence the next generation. We have opportunity today because of social media to connect with parents and kids in ways we’ve never connected before. You have the ability with a couple hours a week to make some incredible investments in parents and small group leaders. You have to shift from being a teacher to being a coach.

If you want your ministry to grow you should surround yourself with voices that value what is dynamic as much as they value what is core. Surround yourself by people who are passionate enough to keep you on mission, but also willing to fight for tension.

When it comes to coaching, don’t just coach adult SGL and parents to do ministry, coach your teenagers to do ministry. Make sure there is a space and a place for teens. When they serve, they experience something they can’t experience any other way. You can tell a teen that they’re significant, but until you give them something significant to do, they won’t fully get it.

Check out the Lead Small app (free) to help you coach parents and small group leaders. (Note: this looks very promising. A great tool for small group leaders.)

—-

Orange Tour - Reggie JoinerORANGE TOUR – SESSION THREE

Speaker: Reggie Joiner @ReggieJoiner

No one leaves the church because someone said the Bible isn’t true. It’s about the people and the way they are treated or not treated.

Blog to read: Jessica Misener. She started questioning and hit a wall in church, so she walked away from Christianity as a whole. There is something there we can discover about how we need to talk to people.

Don’t say what you believe in such a way that it forces those who can’t agree with you to feel like they have to reject who Jesus said He was. We have literally put our faith and trust in a very real man, Jesus who lived on this earth and died for us.

BIBLE: Your primary calling is not to teach kids the Bible, but to lead them into a growing relationship with Jesus. God showed up. It gave the people a context for who God was.

Shift from Christianity is just a set of rules, doctrine, but is a relationship with God and others.

Say YES to tension that exists between content and context if you want to be relevant in your message.

Truth helps someone believe AND application helps someone win.
All scripture is equally inspired, but it is not equally important.
We have a job to figure out what are the most important pieces to share.
All scripture is not equally applicable for every stage of life. What are the pieces that a preschooler needs to hear? etc.
Look at what Jesus did… he stepped onto the planet so they could see, touch, hear who He is.
There is nothing about the Bible that is irrelevant, but we are the stewards to determine how and when to share it.

Understanding theology helps you teach what is true AND understanding reality helps you translate what is true. Don’t let your theology become more important than the people you are trying to get to know and build relationship with. People matter! You need to know your audience.

SESSION THREE CONTINUED

Speakers: Reggie Joiner @ReggieJoiner and Kristen Ivy @Kristen_Ivy

The reality is that so many of us work with kids and teens that have a changing reality and it’s different than yours.

Preschoolers are like artists: They blend reality and imagination. Most preschoolers have probably learned more since breakfast than you & I have learned in the last month. They are so smart.

Children are like scientists: They want to learn how things work, but they are concrete thinkers. They are very literal. Where does Jesus sleep in my heart? When they ask why… what they really mean is how? They want to master one idea at a time.

Teenagers are like philosophers: They want to put the pieces together, see how the stories fit together. They discover that things don’t fit together really easily… they come to us with challenging questions.

Paul when he went to the gentile world, knew how to leverage what they knew in terms of a world view.

A well-crafted statement can make truth memorable AND a well-reasoned question can make truth real.

Questions create space. It can be a little scary and intimidating at times, but it’s good.
It lets someone process their faith and personalize it.

Fear that I need to be in control and not let God be in control. God will have influence in their life long after we’re out of their life. Questions allow us to make our faith our own.

Questions: Make it their answer, make faith a journey, and make God bigger than just your understanding

Principles build Understanding AND Stories build hope.

PRINCIPLES:                                             STORIES:
Content                                                        Context
Idea                                                              History
God’s Thoughts                                          God’s Character
How to Live Life                                           How to Love Life
Reason                                                         Empathy
Discern                                                         Imagine
Wisdom                                                        Faith

Better presentations can amplify what matters AND deeper relationships can solidify what matters.

Too many times we neatly tie the bow and wrap up the presentation and we don’t leave a little tension for conversation in small group. Tension can create a SGL win.

What you say matters more when people know they really matter to you.

Fight harder for the church you’re in to give teens an opportunity to serve. Recruit leaders that will work with teens for an extended period of time. Get leaders that will be present in their life for a season in time beyond high school. Kids don’t run away from relationships.

Do we know what happens to kids after they leave our church? (Go to school) Are we building relationships that continue in life-long community?

When you decide your going to have history with them, it gives you a right to have future with them.

I will do for few what I can’t do for many. I will not let the ones I know become unknown to me.

Figure out how to stay engaged with them as the move into new stages of life. The 20-year-olds in your church probably need you as much now as they did when they were 10.

Engage with your small group at least through the first year of college.

What you do is the most important job on the planet. Thank you.

Orange Tour - Say Yes To The Next GenerationORANGE TOUR SESSION – PARTNERING WITH PARENTS

Speaker: Mike Clear

Be careful what you think about when you think about the parents of your few. That mom, dad, grandparent, foster parent, step parent has been with that child for a long time… they have seen more, loved more, hoped more, cried more with that child than you ever will. Regardless of their issues, every parent deep down inside wants to be a better parent.

The reality is they (the parents) have far more influence in the life of that child than you do. They drive that child around, they feed that child, they tuck them in at night. Who is in the better position to have far more influence on that child?

Let’s say YOU are an exceptional small group leader and you meet every possible week that you have and you make the most of it and you go beyond that and follow your few up through elementary school and you keep in touch with them through the years and maybe even get an invite to their wedding one day. But at your best, your influence in the life of your few is temporary whereas parents it’s lifelong.

For the sake of the few that we work with, we can try to figure out how exactly we can partner with their parents. How can we nurture an authentic daily faith in the life of your few?

Partner with Parents… Parents are looking for answers, they are constantly looking and processing how to be a better parent.

At Orange we believe every parent wants to be a better parent. Even when they complain and they discard all the paper work before they leave your ministry area. Parents just don’t realize or begin to fathom the impact that they have on the spiritual life of their child. Parents tend to avoid subjects that are hard or controversial, faith and spiritual stuff Every parent wants to do something more.

Whether or not they do something more in the life of their child spiritually, is really up to you the small group leader. Even if they go to a spiritual parenting class, they walk away highly motivated, but not highly equipped. As a small group leader you have the opportunity to paint a picture for them of what they can do and what it can look like for their child. Your belief influences your character and your character characterizes your belief.

6 Ways to Partner with Parents in Kids Ministry

There is always a variety of things you’ll need to try and some will stick and some won’t, it’s a constantly changing thing. They are not set in stone.

1. Make an Initial Connection:
If you are asking parents to partner with you and be a part of your strategy, you need to have some sort of initial connection with them. Using the drop-off and pick-up time typcially does not happen every Sunday, working perfectly.

Another option for you is to leverage social media: Text, Email, Facebook message…. tell them a little more about who you are as their child’s small group leader. We want to help them win as a parent. (Define your role as SGL and give them a little information about who you are).

Do a back to school night (don’t call it that)… drop-in night for about 45 minutes. They get to meet the leader, see some of the other parents and kids in the group, get the leader’s contact info. Get to see how the leader engages the child, the parent, the family. Invite parents to bring their kids into your elementary environment. Ask parents what they think you should know about their child…favorite color, hobbies, interests, allergies, etc. Ask them tell you a story about their child that you need to know. It shows them that you really care about their child.

2. Give Them Access to You:
Sometimes we fear giving away all our contact information, but by giving it to them it gives the parent a sense of peace. They may not go to you when they need someone, but they know they could. You could make a business card for your leaders

Small Group Leader noun
1. one consistent person in the life a child.
2. (Write what it is to your church…2 or 3 things total)
3. (Write what it is to your church…2 or 3 things total)
Back side of card has info about the Parent Cue, Parent Cue App, 252 Basics website
FB and Social Media: If you are an idiot on Facebook and social media, parents will see this and pay attention to this. If you want to partner with parents, don’t be an idiot.
Clean up your social footprint!

3. Leverage Technology to Cue Parents Regularly:
Get the Lead Small App. You can send a group text to all the parents of your group regularly, doesn’t have to be every week. Let them know what is going on in your ministry…what are you talking about in your small group. Give them a 40,000 foot view of what you’re talking about so they can continue the conversation at home.

What if we could set parents up and cue parents to start with a deeper question than just what did you learn about today? Don’t give them the whole lesson, just
give them a little. Example: So I heard you learned about Jonah today, what did you learn about him? Or what did you learn about being a good friend today

Let them know what is going on in your group. Let them know if their child had a little tension with another child today. Or let them know if you weren’t able to finish a conversation with the group. Let them know some information that will help them… give them some resources (not necessarily church written info or something you’ve written), but something that is relavent to pop culture like a parenting/stage blog.

4. Show Up Where Parents Show Up:
Show up at church. Give them a “hi”, a smile, an encouragement. If there is a special event, make a point to stop by and talk to them. Make events with small group
leaders and kids a priority. These events are done for a reason to connect parents and leaders in the church. When you put parents and small group leaders in the same room to connect, some powerful things happen.

Show up outside church. Never underestimate the power of physical mail (a postcard is an amazing thing). The great thing about a postcard is as a parent you can read before they do and they don’t even know you did. A birthday card, an occasional letter to the parent (just want you to know I’m praying for you, etc.) If you are going to show up physically, just give them a heads up first so it eliminates the awkward moment.

5. Help Parents Find an Answer:
Give them a resource. Recommend a book (Parenting Beyond your capacity, etc.), a devotional, a blog, etc.
Give them an ally. There will be a time when they ask a question you don’t know the answer to (don’t try to be an expert when you’re not in that area…just let
them know you don’t know, but I am here for you and I want to walk alongside you and help you find the answer/walk through this.
Give them a support group. Know what your church and the church down the street offer (CR, DivorceCare, etc.)

6. Say Something Positive:
We live in a culture, where there is a lot of negativity, a lot of things that are going bad or poorly…say something positive to them. Say something positive to parents about their kid. You don’t know the whole story of that kid, that parent, they may only hear negative things about their child. Give them something positive.

Also say something to kids about their parents. It’s a way to partner with parents when they don’t even know you’re doing it. Did you know that some kids struggle
with authority? There will be times when the kids unload everything to you about how bad things are at home or with their parent; look for ways to honor the parent and say something positive about them.

Say something positive to parents about them. Sometimes parents need to hear something positive about themselves, and sometimes it will be hard to do (to the
parent that seems disengaged, etc.) Getting to church is a win. Sometime the most positive thing you can say to the parent is thank you for being here today, for bringing your child, it was great to connect with them, to talk about xyz.

There will be times when it is complicated, messy, hard,…keep saying we’re here for you, we want to help you win, when the time comes that they need someone to talk to you, when a tragedy happens, they will come to you. Don’t give up on your few, please don’t give up on the parents.

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Thank you Cheryl Kneeland for sharing these excellent notes! Click here to follow her on Twitter.


 

Orange Tour - Seattle Northshore Christian Church

Top 10 Leadership Quotes From The Orange Tour 2014

Here are the top leadership quotes and ministry quotes from this year’s Orange Tour. Each year the good folks at Orange tour several cities teaching leadership and family ministry. Our church hosts the Seattle stop. Here are highlights:

TOP LEADERSHIP QUOTES

Orange Tour#10. Being afraid isn’t failure, staying afraid is. – @JonAcuff

#9. Just because something is true doesn’t mean that it will be embraced. – @ReggieJoiner

#8. Sometimes you need to risk and sacrifice what you are currently doing for the sake of what could be. – @CNieuwhof

#7. Stop thinking like a teacher… act like a coach. – @ReggieJoiner

#6. When you raise bar, high capacity people show up. – @CNieuwhof

#5. Surround yourself with voices that value what is dynamic as much as what is core. – @ReggieJoiner

#4. You’ve got to do character on the front end, not the back end. – @CNieuwhof

#3. As a leader, you are driven by mission, but you succeed because of strategy. – @ReggieJoiner

#2. The scope of your influence is determined by the success of your leaders. – @ReggieJoiner

#1. People admire your strengths, but they resonate with your weaknesses. – @CNieuwhof

TOP 12 MINISTRY QUOTES

Orange Tour - Reggie Joiner#12. People aren’t looking for friendliness, they are looking for friends. – @ReggieJoiner

#11. Trust leads to stronger faith, but doubt can also lead to stronger faith. – @ReggieJoiner

#10. Jesus never started with theology. He started with ministry. Where you start with someone is important. – @CNieuwhof

#9. God is not surprised or disappointed by the size of your ministry. – @JonAcuff

#8. If you never let your kids process their own doubts, they’ll never own their own faith. – @ReggieJoiner

#7. Don’t make the things in the world the enemy. – @ReggieJoiner

#6. Maturity takes time… we have to be willing to give people time. @CNieuwhof

#5. The greatest apologetic is a transformed life, not a full mind. – @ReggieJoiner

#4. One day when parents and kids think about your church, YOU will be what they remember. – @CNieuwhof

#3. The production at your churches doesn’t change lives. Relationships do. – @CNieuwhof

#2. You should invest in insiders. You should prioritize for outsiders. – @ReggieJoiner

#1. In the future, dialog will trump monolog.- @CNieuwhof

BONUS QUOTES

Orange Tour - Seattle Northshore Christian ChurchThe church should be the safest place to ask questions. – @ReggieJoiner

As leaders, our mission is to influence those who influence the next generation. – @ReggieJoiner

If you aim at nothing you’ll hit it every time. What are you aiming at? – @JimWideman

When you start with a self-depreciating story as a leader, it works… because they all can relate to you. – @CNieuwhof

Kids may be leaving the church because there it is not a safe place to ask their tough questions. – @CNieuwhof

Tension doesn’t make a truth less true, it makes it more real. – @ReggieJoiner

Sometimes in our zeal to fight for what is true, we don’t fight for the tensions that actually connect those truths to what is real. – @ReggieJoiner

Sometimes a truth can lose clarity when it’s divorced from the reality of the other truths that amplify it. – @ReggieJoiner

When there’s tension, there’s opportunity. Tension creates a platform for conversation. – @ReggieJoiner

“You can’t tell kids to be the church one day if you haven’t given them the opportunity to be the church now.” – @ReggieJoiner

Kids will not believe they are signficant until you give them something significant to do. – @ReggieJoiner

You should enjoy going to church. We should create church as a place people want to be. – @ReggieJoiner

You may become a Christian in a moment, but it takes forever to figure out what that means. – @ReggieJoiner

Working with children is like planting an orchard. You might not see results until years later. – @ReggieJoiner

What God has given me is what I need to say yes to. – @JonAcuff

You will never be able to out-produce what’s available in culture. Culture can’t out-“community” your church. – @ReggieJoiner

Beliefs matter. Start wrestling with doctrine & principles & ask hard questions-it’s important! – @ReggieJoiner

What do you need to do differently today… to reach the people you want to reach tomorrow? – @CNieuwhof

CONFERENCE NOTES

Tweet From Elle Campbell: For more notes from @ellllllllllle and @kennnnnnnnny on creating a safe space for students, visit http://ellecampbell.org/orangetour

Tweet from Jim Wideman: #Orangetour Seattle here are my notes and worker app enjoy http://ow.ly/BIe80

The Orange Tour stops in cities around the country each fall. I find it a great resource for our children’s ministry, student ministry, family ministry and senior leadership teams. Click here for more information.

What are your favorite Orange quotes? Leave them below.


 

Orange Tour - Seattle Northshore Christian Church