Saturday, May 22, 2010

Church Planting in America

Every church planter I talk to tells me a similar story, "We're going to do something different." I say "OK," and then when they get going this is what I see.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

The Missional Church: Driven By Program-Development or People-Development?

I have recently been re-reading Reggie McNeal's book Missional Renaissance. What a great book. What I like most about it is Reggie addresses the issue of the "scorecard."

Most churches have only 1 or 2 real scorecards. Those are typically attendance and giving. Some churches will add "baptisms." But the truth is that most church leaders are lulled into thinking everything is great if the attendance and giving is growing.

If we are truly going to plant and lead missional churches, then we have to honestly re-evaluate our scorecard. What do we call success? What causes us concern or heavy hearts? What gives us joy as church leaders?

One of the key shifts that the Western church has to make to be missional is the shift in focus from "program-development" to "people-development."

There is not a problem with having programs, but for many churches success is defined by how many programs you have and how many people attend these programs. You can be very successful in a "program-development" environment and make very little progress toward making disciples.

Could it be that the rise of the program-driven church is directly correlated with the rise of the service economy in post-World War II America? Is that where the Western church really began to take on the role of being a "vendor of religious services and goods?" What would it look like for our churches to be more focused on people-development than program-development? Church planters, let me know what you think!

Monday, May 03, 2010

Prioritization: The Key to Success and Life Balance

There are two things that are most difficult to get people to do: To think & to get people to do things in order of importance. - John Maxwell

More than ever before in history people are over-loaded with information, to-do's, opportunities to consider, problems to solve, and relationships to manage (just to name a few.) In order to succeed we must develop 3 critical skills.

  1. We must learn to set daily and weekly priorities. Every day is a challenge, so we need to start our day with clarity on what's most important for that day. The same is true for every week. However, this must not be decided in a vacuum. Each day and week we should review the bigger picture (e.g. your 90-day strategic plan and your 1-3 year vision.) With the bigger picture and longer perspective in mind, we can set daily & weekly priorities that will move us toward the life, business, and goals that we truly desire.
  2. We must learn to delegate everything possible. I hear my clients say "Nobody can do it right" or "My staff is just too busy." Let me be blunt: These are terrible excuses for not delegating! If someone can do something 80% as well as you can, delegate it! They'll most likely improve if given the opportunity. If you do not have team members who can do the things you do at least 80% as well, your priority needs to be either training or replacing staff! "But they already have too much to do" you might say. The truth is, our time will always fill up with stuff. Chances are they will never have time. So delegate things that are important to you, and help them to prioritize. If you don't, they will be constantly busy doing things that are not the priority!
  3. Say "No" to the obvious low-value, low priority stuff. I call this "clutter." You and I are attacked by clutter daily. If you don't have the ability to evaluate the obvious clutter quickly, and then say "No", you will not accomplish the most important things. If the clutter is not obvious to you, take a few minutes every week and make a list of the low-value, low-priority activities you engaged in the previous week. Consciously start saying "No" to those things. Also, start setting your priorities and watch what does NOT get done by the end of the day. These are clues to the clutter as well. If you prioritize and you get to the end of the day, you've eliminated the clutter, and there are still mission critical priorities on your list that aren't getting done, most likely then you have a delegation problem. Go back to step 2.
One final thought, many people tell me "Everything is a priority." That's just not true! If everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority. That's just an excuse for not having the skill or will to set priorities.

This may be one of the most difficult challenges you face on a daily basis. Train yourself and discipline yourself to prioritize. If you need help, get a coach or an accountability partner. But DO IT! Prioritization is the key to your success and joy in ministry!