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These are comments you never want to hear as a leader in your church.
- “I visited your church and checked a box on a card, but I never heard back from anyone.”
- “I spoke with a staff member, and they said they would call me, but I never got a call.”
- “I attended a training meeting and volunteered to help, but no one followed up with my next steps.”
When I hear statements like these, I cringe inside. Not because I think churches and people are required to be perfect (no organization is flawless), but because 99% of the time the lapse was avoidable.
It’s the little things that make a huge difference.
It’s the personal touch, the second-mile effort and the keeping of system-based promises that make you and your church stand out.
Your various forms of in-bound communication with church attendees constitute a system. For example, a tear-off card in your bulletin, registration using Wufoo, or your ChMS.
An implied system-based promise says when a church attendee reaches out or responds to you using your system, you will respond. To say it another way, the very presence of your system is a promise that you will respond.
The larger your church becomes, the more difficult this is to accomplish, but the greater the impact.
The larger your church, the more you receive a little grace because people understand the law of large numbers. However, don’t let that grace allow you to get sloppy.
There are three types of people who want solutions but don’t find them, even though answers knock at the door.
Finding a solution starts with who you are.
3 types of people who always get stuck:
#1. Perfectionists who look down on imperfect progress always get stuck.
The need to get it right the first time calls perfectionists to play it safe.
Perfectionists feel powerful saying, “That won’t work.”
John Acuff says the first lie of perfectionism is, “Quit if it isn’t perfect.” (Read his book, Finish.)
Perfectionism is the cousin of stagnation.
Tip: Ask questions that enable progress.
- What changes if you do nothing?
- What’s the worst that could happen?
- How might you try something that you’re confident will succeed?
#2. Know-it-alls filled with blame always get stuck.
The problem is always others when failure persists and you’re in the right.
The finger of blame reflects a closed mind.
Tip: Ask questions that create openness.
- What if they’re just a little right?
- What if you’re just a little wrong?
- What would you consider if you were (Insert a different perspective)? Older/younger, male/female, powerful/weak, customer/employee, etc.
Let’s be honest: There are some types of church communication that are less than exciting. Annual reports, financial statements, business meetings, and more. Some church communication is just plain boring.
Now there are people who will read your annual reports and attend your business meetings out of a sense of religious obligation (pun intended), but what about the other 98% of your congregation? How can you make some of these boring details more engaging? Here are a few things to think about when you absolutely have to get the word out about the less exciting parts of church life. (Note: I’ll focus on annual reports—my personal bane—but each principle can be applied to the other business you have to tell your church.)
1. What’s the Purpose?
Is your annual report meant to serve as a historical record for your church or merely to fulfill the requirements of being a nonprofit organization in your state? Is it something that you’ve “just always done” or is it used intentionally to celebrate successes?
There’s always value in taking time to reflect on struggles and successes. Even if your annual report feels lifeless or routine, there is an actual need it could meet in your church. Figure out that purpose, then plan your report around fulfilling it.
2. Who’s Your Audience?
It’s your church, right? Well, maybe not. Most church business is probably meant for the church, but if the primary purpose of your report is to celebrate your church’s victories over the past year, why not let your neighbors and visitors know?
An abridged version of your report with some pictures and infographics showing how your church has met your community’s needs could be appealing to people who want to know what you’re all about. As an added bonus, you’ll think differently when you’re writing for an audience outside your church. This could be an opportunity to see your church as your community sees it.
In our hectic world of go, Go, GO!… It seems difficult to simply find time to sit down and think. In my own life, I feel the pressure of being a pastor, being a good husband to Angie, being a good father (sherpa/guide/mentor/friend) to my sons Andrew and Chris, serving on ministry boards, travel schedule, and writing projects.
Oftentimes, I do not have time to sit and think simply because I overcommit. So, when you are busy… and we’re all busy… we need principles we hold to in order to simply think, dream, and strategize.
Here are seven strategies that I use to implement more brain time into my life.
1. Make it part of your job. “Thinking is necessary for your job” seems like a silly statement but it’s a necessary one. Otherwise, we simply complete tasks non-stop and never come up with a new idea. If you are going to lead, you will need time to think it all through.
2. First things first. Don’t allow the menial tasks of the day to take precedence over the opportunity to see ahead, hear what’s really going on, and think through priorities. Sharpen your mind and refine your strategies so that your work will be fruitful.
3. Reframe circumstances by asking “Why?” five times. Work is never done in a vacuum. When we experience success or failure, we need to know what contribute to either. Asking “Why?” at least five times will take you the context, circumstances, and contributing factors as to how you got to the end result.
Thank you to our sources for this week’s blog posts:
Dan Reiland – The Most Underestimated Advantage for Church Growth
Leadership Freak (Dan Rockwell) – Three types of people who always get stuck
Church Marketing Sucks (Marc Aune) – Let’s Get Down to Business: How to Communicate the Boring
Philip Nation – 7 Ways to More Thinking Time