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Michael Hyatt wrote The Virtual Assistant Solution. He uses my primary sponsor (eaHELP) as a solution to his demanding schedule and work. I interviewed eaHELP to ask them about it.
1) How did Michael Hyatt become such a big fan of eaHELP? Why did he write the eBook?
 
We’ve been fortunate to partner with Michael Hyatt since nearly the start of our business. He brought his assistant, Tricia, on board in early 2011 and has since added several of our eaHELP virtual assistants to his team. Michael, with his extensive background in corporate leadership, understands that good leaders absolutely must delegate some of their workload to others if they’re going to achieve their goals. And for a solo entrepreneur like Michael, a virtual executive assistant was a perfect fit. 
 
When he launched his own speaking and writing business, he reached out to eaHELP and we’ve both benefitted from that relationship ever since. 
 
(See post on “Behind the Scenes” with Michael’s first VEA Tricia to learn more about how he got started and what his assistants do for him -http://michaelhyatt.com/behind-the-scenes-with-my-virtual-assistant.html)
 
2) What are the things/tasks that most Pastors / Church Leaders don’t realize they can do … w/ a virtual assistant?
 
Probably the biggest things that most leaders, from any industry, don’t realize they can do is offload their email to a virtual executive assistant. So many leaders have the “in box zero” goal, but with the volume of communication they receive and the speed at which they receive it that’s nearly impossible. Having someone else look at your in box and help you triage those messages frees up so much valuable time, and that’s often where our clients have their assistants start. Working together, the client and VEA can develop standard responses to the most common email questions and clients can point their VEA to the resources they need to help find answers for other frequent requests. This frees leaders up to handle only those emails that require their unique input and expertise.
Another area where leaders can really benefit is in scheduling and calendar management. How many emails do you get a day that read something like, “Are you free for coffee on Thursday? Can you make the meeting on Sunday night?” Having a VEA screen those emails for you, and be able to manage your calendar to send the answers to those people, means you’ve got all that time back in your work day. Plus, your VEA can act as your scheduling gatekeeper and protect the blocks of time you need to accomplish your goals. If you know you’ll need three hours next week to finish a presentation, having your VEA handle your calendar means you’ll keep those three hours uninterrupted – and you don’t have to be the “bad guy” who said “no” to all those requests.
 
3) How’s business at eaHELP?
 
Things at eaHELP are really growing. We saw growth that definitely exceeded our projections in 2013, and we don’t see that slowing down in 2014. We’re really picking up traction in the industry, and leaders in all industries are seeing the value that can come from expanding their workforce virtually. We’re serving leaders from large corporations, and we’re serving entrepreneurs who are starting up their very first businesses. We’re serving pastors planting a new church, and we’re serving mega-church pastors and their staff members. And we’re doing it all successfully. We see only growth in this industry as more and more leaders look for affordable ways to add quality workers to their teams, and as qualified workers (like the EAs we hire) look for more flexible ways to move their careers forward.
 
4) What are the key things/reasons you have observed about leaders who are not good at delegating?
 
Many leaders we talk with tell us they don’t have time to delegate – and they’re right, they don’t. That’s because they waited too long to look for help with everything on their plates. Those leaders absolutely have to carve out time in their schedules to take a hard look at all the things they’re doing and figure out which ones are really adding value to their work. Anything else is fair game for delegating to a virtual assistant. Once the leaders have determined what tasks they can delegate, we can look for assistants that have the skills to match that list. When we bring our assistants to clients and explain their experiences and knowledge, we hear time and again, “She sounds perfect…” By working the client through the responsibilities they need to delegate, and then finding the EA who’s perfectly suited to take those over, we’ve built up the client’s confidence in the process and helped loosen their grip on all those tasks they were sure they didn’t have the time to delegate.
 
5) What are the biggest challenges when bringing on a virtual assistant for the first time?
 
The biggest challenge, and the one we spend the most time working through with our clients, is creating a “job description” of sorts for their assistants. Lots of leaders know they need help, and they know that something has to be moved off their plates if they want to move their businesses forward, but they have trouble really nailing down what that is and what it will look like. We work with leaders to outline what responsibilities they could transition to their EA, and we’re able to bring our experiences from serving hundreds of leaders to the table to help give those leaders ideas. That way, before the engagement with the EA even starts, the leader knows exactly what kind of help he or she needs, and we can find the EA who has the right mix of skills and experiences to hit the ground running and start making an immediate difference for that leader.
We also emphasize with leaders how important it is to keep the lines of communication open between them and their EA. When you work virtually, communication becomes more important – not less. At the beginning of the engagement, especially, leaders need to be regularly meeting with their EA either by phone or web conference. As the engagement progresses, the EA and client can find the ways that work best to communicate – email, text, phone, whatever – but always need keep the communication going.
 
6) What differentiates eaHELP from the competition?
 
We take the matching process between our clients and assistants really seriously. I don’t think you’re going to find another virtual assistant company that asks both clients and assistants to take personality tests to make sure they’re a good fit in terms of their working styles. Many other companies are all about outsourcing your tasks, and distributing them to a pool of assistants who may not know anything at all about your business or industry. We’re about providing you with an assistant who will become part of your team and your day-to-day interactions, and anticipate your needs before you even recognize them. You’ll get an assistant who’s uniquely suited to your business and what you need to get done, and who works and thinks like you do. And we do all the matching work for you, and provide you with an assistant who will start adding value to your business from day 1.

Today’s blog post is a guest post from Tom Harper. Tom is president of Networld Media Group, a publisher of online trade journals and events for the banking, retail, restaurant and church leadership markets (including the mega-blog www.ChurchCentral.com). He is the author of Leading from the Lions’ Den: Leadership Principles from Every Book of the Bible (B&H). Here’s his post:

Let’s say you have a CEO friend who takes you to lunch. “I don’t know what to do,” he says, pushing his salad around his plate. “My company is sinking. I can’t plug all the holes.”

What advice do you give him? Here are a few tactics Paul offers to combat widespread, cumulative problems.

1.  Require gifts of time.  In 2 Corinthians 8:12, Paul instructs the church members at Corinth to not just love one another, but to prove it by their willingness to give. He says, “For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.” In other words, they shouldn’t compare the value of their gifts.

Paul commands the church to give sacrificially. This attitude should pervade an organization, too. When people give up their cherished time to help each other, personal agendas diminish.

2.  Steal one person’s problem and give it to others.  A widespread spirit of giving may not be enough to remedy serious problems. Sometimes the leader needs to rip people away from cracks in the walls and rush them to the breach at the main gate.

3.  Pluck out the parasites.  Are there parasites draining energy and productivity from your organization? They may be meetings, under-performing departments, individual products, services, people or customers.

Matt Russ is a triathlon and cycling trainer. He teaches how to produce concentrated pedal force with little wasted energy. “It is possible to be a fit and powerful athlete, but not necessarily a fast one if you are inefficient,” he writes. He warns against the following energy drains:

  • Soft-soled shoes (a harder surface transfers more body energy)
  • Loosely strapped feet (directs force laterally rather than vertically)
  • Pulling pedals up (one leg will fight the other, wasting effort)
  • Seat too high or low (affects power production)

“All of these variables affect how you concentrate your energy to that small area near your big toe,” he says. “Training or adjusting for cycling efficiency is ‘free speed.’”

How can you focus your organization’s limited supply of energy in the right places, with the right technique? What can you do to get some “free speed?”

This is good stuff. I especially loved when the dog started barking (that is my life). You just got to laugh!

Church Leadership Essentials paperback

My book Church Leadership Essentials: What Every Pastor Needs to Know is now available in print. The book has done very well as an ebook on Kindle and has 5 star reviews (thank you). Personally, I like to hold a book in my hand and keep it on a shelf in my office. I love collecting books!

Here’s the description from Amazon:

Think of this book as a toolbox full of leadership tools for pastors and other church leaders. Greg Atkinson has the uncanny ability to get to the heart of issues, and offer solutions and resolutions in a practical and meaningful way. He packs 34 key leadership principles into concise but powerful chapters. This book is the vital leadership training that many seminaries failto offer. It can revolutionize your ministry.

Here’s what people are saying about the book:

  • Greg is one of the more thoughtful leaders in the church today. I’ve worked with him personally and found him to be very professional and helpful. He knows church leadership. This is one to put on your bookcase where you can get to it quickly. Great church resource. – Ron Edmondson
  • Whether you’re a lead pastor, a staff member, or serve in leadership in any way in your church, you’ll find Greg’s book dripping with practical leadership advice. This is a book you’ll come back to over and over. I know I will! – Ben Reed
  • Greg provides a easy to digest, highly insightful and provocative guide to leadership that you can tell is born out of experience and revelation. I haven’t seen anyone approach the topic in the way that Greg has and he offers a unique voice that I find very refreshing and unique. – Rex Miller
  • Greg Atkinson has written a very helpful book that offers us a biblically sound spiritual approach to innovation and leadership. I love the short and quickly accessible chapters — each one is packed with insights that will stand the test of time. I believe you will find this book to be a fresh, relevant and practical read. - Dan Reiland
  • Greg’s wealth of experience makes this a must-have-book for anyone working in a church! His writing style is easy to keep up with and very enjoyable. Buy this book now and become a better Christian leader! - Alan Danielson
  • Greg’s honesty and practical insights make this book an essential for every leader’s library. Church Leadership Essentials is an easy read, but the topics are anything but easy and come from a lifetime of dedication to making The Church & Her leader’s great. This book is written from the perspective of been-there-done-that. One can only write a book like this when they have had the varied background of experiences that a Greg Atkinson has had. There’s no Ghost Writer here. This is one leader walking ahead of the rest of us giving us a path to follow. So much of Church Leadership is really really hard. This book seeks to make the easy stuff easy, and to admit what it takes to do the rest of it.  - Dave Miller
*** I wrote this book for church leaders that went to school, but weren’t prepared for real ministry or church leaders that never got to attend Bible college or seminary and are learning on the fly. This is a book full of leadership lessons that they don’t teach you in school. My prayer is that you’ll use this with your team. I encourage you to buy one for each of your team members and use the book as a starting place for team discussion. Go HERE to get the book. God bless you as you serve.

Regardless of who  you’re pulling for in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game, this is pretty cool. I don’t know if you’ve heard the incredible story of Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman, who is the first legally deaf offensive player in NFL history, but you should.

Now a Duracell ad featuring Coleman and his inspiring story has gone viral … and it’s great.

Check out this video. How driven are you?

Powerful video of a creative way awareness was brought to thousands at a national sporting event in Atlanta, GA on the weekend of April 6th, 2013. Visit enditmovement.com for more details on how you can be in it to END IT. #enditmovement

Watch this video of Rich Birch interviewing me for the unSeminary Podcast on ways to create an irresistible church in 2014. We based this conversation around a chapter of my book “Church Leadership Essentials“. Listen in on this episode for some practical insights on things you could improve at your church in the coming weeks and months.

I thought this commercial was encouraging and inspiring. It reminded me about the chapter in my upcoming book on progression. In the chapter I talk about not being afraid to fail and continuing to try after failure. Enjoy this video.

“For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again…” – Proverbs 24:16 NASB

Candlestick Park

The following is a guest post from Life Letter Cafe blog.

Candlestick Park was opened in the Spring of 1960, in the vicinity of the Hunter’s Point shipyards of San Francisco . .

It has been home primarily to the San Francisco Giants and 49ers over most of that fifty-three year span of time. When 49er linebacker NaVorro Bowman executed what is now called “The Pick at the Stick” this last Monday evening, sealing a victory over the hapless Atlanta Falcons, fans and historians began to bid farewell to the outdated, yet iconic stadium which will be remembered not so much for it’s luster or immediate location, but for the sports memories that unfolded in it’s windy and often brutally cold confines.

Moments of anguish?

There have been plenty. Few will ever forgive Bobby Richardson for catching Willie McCovey’s liner to win the World Series on October 19th, 1962. The mild-mannered pitcher Juan Marichal went after Dodger catcher Johnny Roseboro with his bat on August 22, 1965 . . an incident he profoundly regrets. Perhaps the most bitter pill ever swallowed at the “Stick” was on July 29th, 1990 when Giants starter Scott Garrelts was denied a no-hitter with two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the ninth by the “clutch” hitting of Paul O’Neil of the Cincinnati Reds.

Moments of exhilaration?

Too many to recall in this post, but who could forget April 12th, 1993 when Barry Bonds homered on the first pitch in his first home at bat as a Giant against the Florida Marlins? Or how about January 5th, 2003 when the 49ers came back from 24 points downs to defeat New York football Giants 39-38 in a thrilling win led by Jeff Garcia that is to this day regarded as the loudest game in 49er history. Little more needs to be said than Joe Montana, Dwight Clark and “The Catch” to upend the football juggernaut Dallas Cowboys (Tom Landry, Roger Staubach) on Jan 10th 1982. Cubs fans will never forgive Will “The Thrill” Clark who single-handedly beat them for the National League pennant in October, 1989.

While the act of sports competition holds little eternal significance in and of itself, Candlestick Park’s unique history offers valuable leadership lessons for pastors . . here are the first 6 that quickly come to mind:

  1. The Wind: Never underestimate your single greatest threat to success

    Though studies were done on the best way to configure Candlestick on the property, the “boomerang-shaped” rim on the top of the stadium did little if anything to divert howling gusts that would often change direction multiple times in one game, forcing untold number of missed fly balls, pop-ups, field goals and pass attempts. If taken seriously, stadium architects would have insisted on a dome . . or a different location. Today’s pastor is afforded unparalleled access to technology and proven organizational systems and processes that fall dangerously short on what can only be accomplished through a church body desperate to access the Lord’s power through prayer. (Ephesians 6:10-18)

  2. The 1989 Loma Prieta World Series Earthquake: Every leader needs an unseen ally

    Engineers got it right when they refused to build Candlestick on the part of the property that was nearly 100% landfill and instead anchored the foundation to the bedrock at the foot of Bay View Hill.  Major structural failure may have occurred during the 1989 World Series had the stadium been located even just 100 yards further out towards the Bay. Pastor’s cannot exchange critical time alone with God and in personal relationships marked by accountability to mature mentors without risking “ministry collapse” in times of greatest adversity. (Proverbs 27:17)

  3. The 1989 Loma Prieta World Series Earthquake: Your greatest tests will reveal the greatest strengths and weaknesses of your leadership team.

    While location by a windy Bay or a lack of a domed stadium was the “Stick’s” Achilles heel, it’s greatest strength was engineers who resisted shortcuts in design-construction schemes and schedules and went with more costly and time-consuming cutting-edge reinforced concrete technology that kept more than 60,000 people unharmed while bridges and freeways around the Bay were collapsing in the wake of a devastating 7.1 magnitude temblor. While “moves of God” are the end-goal, Pastor’s who start and lead churches on an unrealistically fast development pace will face inevitable implosion when times of greatest challenge occur . . particularly in the area of ill-equipped and spiritually immature staff. (Proverbs 19:2)

  4. Artificial Turf: Shortcuts to excellence will inevitably cut you short

    For more than a decade, Candlestick Park featured artificial turf to address the challenges that can occur when football and baseball teams share the same facility, especially in a damp, cool climate. The result? An accelerated rate of football injuries, baseballs taking ridiculous bounces and turf seams that were . .unseemly. Creativity for church leadership teams is essential but should never cause a pastor to trust more in “gimmicks” (gimmicks that tend to create religious consumers vs. spiritual reproducers) than the power of the gospel in and of itself. (Romans 1:16)

  5. Power Failure – 49ers vs Steelers December 2011: Leaders can and will fail

    The lights indeed went out on a nationally broadcast game between these two storied football franchises. Pastors all fail in little and not so little ways . . the question is whether they create a culture of secrecy or transparency. Those who choose the former are fabricating an illusion that misses out on the ability to equip a congregation with the one essential tool it needs that separates it from the world: grace. Restoration not fabrication should be the full-time work of a church leader. (James 5:16)

  6. Stu Miller Blown Off Pitcher’s Mound – The 1961 All Star Game: Ministry climate is never fair

    Giants pitcher Stu Miller was blown off balance by a gust of wind and was charged with a balk in front of a hometown crowd and a national audience. His response? He shrugged it off and stated, “Hey it’s my claim to fame I guess”. Pastor’s in the grip of entitlement who seek to lead a church will inevitably take themselves too seriously and lose sight of the fact that the kingdom is not “built” on a fair weather playing field and that sometimes God’s greatest gains happen in spite of our most embarrassing flops or shortcomings. (2 Corinthians 12:9)


What are your thoughts? CLICK HERE . . to look at the final 6 lessons on leadership afforded by the iconic Candlestick Park!

multi-site_churches1-300x128

The multisite model continues to be a proven and cost-effective vehicle for churches in reaching, serving and engaging more people locally and regionally. Leadership Network reports there are over 5,000 expressions of multisite church across North America with nearly 7 million people attending a multisite church nationwide. As Ed Stetzer concluded in the 2013 annual Outreach Magazine issue of the 100 Largest and Fastest Growing Churches in America “the common denominators of multisite, small groups and community engagement surface throughout 2013.”

The multisite experiment began as a pre-recession band-aid strategy for megachurches that were out of room or restricted by zoning laws. It became the primary way healthy churches accommodated their growth during the recession. Even as the economy improves the multisite model will continue to be the prevailing choice for accommodating and accelerating growth in healthy churches.

As anticipated, we saw in 2013 an increase in multisite mergers, church name-changing, internet “on-line” campuses and international multisite expansion. These trends will continue. Here’s some additional developments emerging among 2014 multisite trends:

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-Megachurches becoming giga-churches. Megachurches are getting bigger because they are no longer limited to one location. LifeChurch.tv based in Oklahoma City is the largest church in America with over 50,000 in attendance across 18 campuses in several states. The most vulnerable churches in America are the large mono-site, super-mega campuses with aging senior pastors.

-Owning multisite locations. Up to now the overwhelming majority of multisite campuses are in rented facilities. Because the multisite model has now moved beyond an experiment to a proven strategy more churches are beginning to buy land to construct new buildings or purchase existing buildings for permanent multisite campuses.

-New rules for church construction. In an increasingly hostile culture towards new church construction the rules have changed for constructing new church buildings. The new church buildings going up today are smaller, multi-purpose, multi-venue, local community-centric and environmentally-friendly buildings.  You can read more about this revolution in church construction on my blog post New Rules for Sacred Space.

-The majority of multisite churches are not maximizing the model. Most of the 5,000+multisite churches are stuck at two or three campuses because they don’t know how or aren’t willing to make the organizational changes necessary to fully benefit from the multisite model. The majority of multisite churches are still functioning like a mono-site church with campuses instead of a church of campuses.   If this describes your church take the Multisite Diagnostic Test to determine how well your church is managing this paradigm shift.

-Multisite churches with four or more campuses. Even though the majority of multisite churches are not fully maximizing the multisite model as previously mentioned, more are growing beyond three campuses. The fourth campus is the “game-changer” that typically forces churches to change their structure which positions them to take full advantage of the model and grow even beyond four campuses. These churches of four or more campuses typically have a full-time multisite director on the lead team, a dedicated campus pastor at the original campus and a well-defined central support system.

-Confusing multisiting with church planting. Though the outcome of church planting and multisiting is the same—new congregations, church plants and multisite campuses are not the same thing.  There are geographic, gifting and governance differences. A lack of clarity and understanding around these differences  causes a lot of unnecessary problems in multisite churches. Some of the most effective multisite churches have also created successful church planting networks because they understand the differences and designed different strategies for them.

-Se habla español (Spanish spoken here). Multisite megachurches are leading the way in producing local congregations that are more economically, racially and ethnically diverse especially within Hispanic communities. These are not the traditional ethnic churches “using our church building” but diverse congregations under the banner of one church in multiple congregations with racially diverse campus pastors on the church staff.

-Multisite Teaching Teams. Whether they utilize video sermons or not, there is a growing desire to develop preaching-teaching teams to strengthen the teaching bench of the church, develop teachers and potential successors while increasing the overall depth and breadth of biblical instruction.

-Requests for Multisite Coaching.  There is a rising chorus for on-going multisite coaching in the month-to-month oversight of a growing multisite church. A coach who can help churches go from two to five, then ten campuses. Someone who can help them avoid the potholes and get better at multisiting. They need a mentor and we got’em at MultiSite Solutions. Find the right one for you by visiting us at Considering a Multisite Mentor?

What do YOU see emerging on the multisite church scene in 2014?

What trend is emerging in your church in 2014?

How will your church be different in 2014?

*** The following was a guest post from Jim Tomberlin