Strategy and Organization in the Church

3D-Strange-Leadership

[The following is a brief excerpt from one chapter of my new book Strange Leadership: 40 Ways to Lead an Innovative Organization. Go to the book’s website for more info: https://strangeleadership.com/.]

My top two spiritual gifts are leadership and administration, so the subject of organization is something I love and gravitate toward. If you have the spiritual gift of administration, you love structure, systems, processes, and org charts. If you don’t, those things probably drive you crazy. Regardless of your primary gifting, it helps to approach leadership with a thirty-thousand foot view and try to see the big picture of what’s going on in your organization. The way the body of Christ works is if this is difficult for you, surround yourself with other leaders who this is natural for.

In my travels, speaking, consulting, and conversations with leaders of all types, I’ve discovered a major reason they are not getting the results they desire is due to a system designed to give them the exact result they’re getting. If your system is designed to fail, you will fail every time. If your organization’s culture is one of creativity, innovation, trust, and you have a healthy system in place, there is no limit to what you as a team can accomplish (through the Holy Spirit). Do you think the Bible cares about organization? I do. Read the story of Moses and his father-in-law in Exodus 18:13-26.

I thank God for including the story of Moses and his father-in-law, Jethro. In this story, we see Moses was a man with flaws and had made a poor decision on how to best go about judging the people. Maybe he didn’t have the gift of leadership or administration. He did, however, have the wisdom to listen to someone who did, and the Bible tells us this gave Moses new strength to carry out whatever God commanded him. The people also flourished in their settings. It was a win-win.

Greg Atkinson

The book The Externally Focused Quest by Eric Swanson and Rick Rusaw has some great thoughts on this as well. I could easily quote chapters of it for you, but I’ll just encourage you to read it.

No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.
Luke 6:43 (NIV)

It’s crucial to recognize your system could be choking the life, health, creativity and innovation out of your organization. My encouragement to you is to have someone with the gift of administration evaluate your systems. This could be someone in your church (maybe a business leader who will volunteer), a gifted staff member, or an outside consultant who can come in and look at the big picture.

One Scripture I’ve found myself quoting to church leaders often is when Jesus told his disciples to be “wise as serpents” (Matt. 10:16). In The Message, verse 16 reads, “be as cunning as a snake.” I am often referring to this verse when I’m engaged in helping an organization with strategic planning and overall strategy.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with strategy when it comes to church leadership. Of course we need to always be sensitive and open to the Spirit’s leading and sudden change, but God can be with us in the strategy and planning of any organization. So as you set up your systems, structure, and processes, I would suggest two thoughts: keep it simple and keep it fluid or flexible.

Neil Cole, director of Church Multiplication Associates said, “Simplicity is the key to the fulfillment of the Great Commission in this generation. If the process is complex, it will break down early in the transference to the next generation of disciples. The more complex the process, the greater the giftedness needed to keep it going. The simpler the process, the more available it is to the broader Christian population” (Cultivating a Life for God, page 10). Albert Einstein said, “Out of complexity, find simplicity.” I agree. You might have seventy-five staff members on your team, but this doesn’t mean you can’t approach your structure and processes in such a way in which they are simple to share, quote, and move people through. Did you know research strongly backs this principle?

The book Simple Church is full of thoroughly researched and proven principles. I want to strongly encourage you to read it if you haven’t already. In Simple Church, the authors, Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger, tell us that “in general, simple churches are growing and vibrant. Churches with a simple process for reaching and maturing people are expanding the kingdom … Conversely, complex churches are struggling and anemic. Churches without a process or with a complicated process for making disciples are floundering. As a whole, cluttered and complex churches are not alive. Our research shows that these churches are not growing.” (Simple Church, page 14).

*** Also be sure to download the FREE Team Discussion Guide on the book’s website and go through the book with your entire leadership team.

 

Why Passion Matters

ID-10066884

God has wired you uniquely and specially—your DNA and what makes you tick is different from mine and those around you. God has a personal plan for your life (Jer 29:11). Often, when God wants to use you for something significant, he will give you a passion for a cause or area of ministry. This is the H or “heart” in your SHAPE profile by Rick Warren. Mark Waltz of Granger Community Church says, “Every person has a fondness for a certain cause, need, or group of people. This is reflected in our conversations and is deeply tied to our emotions.” God will put his finger on something in your area of passion to use you for His cause.

 

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. —Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)

 

The Bible instructs us to guard our heart. In the NLT, it goes on to say “for it determines the course of your life.” Where you go next and what you do next may be directly tied to your heart and passion. This is key for the innovative and strange leader. In a blog post at www.9Marks.org, Kevin DeYoung encourages pastors:

“Let your person constantly be refined by the spirit of God, and let the truth of God’s word shine through your own personality.” God is the one who gave you your unique personality and like it or not, He has a purpose and plan for it.

 

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

—Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)

 

In the next chapter, we’ll look at the role vision plays in the life of the leader. Andy Stanley said, “Vision is always accompanied by strong emotion [or passion]. And the clearer the vision, the stronger the emotion.” (Visioneering p. 10) Another -ion I could list as a way to lead an innovative organization is by conviction, but to me this is closely tied with passion so I’m combining them.

I believe God gives you a passion, and this becomes a conviction for you. Like Christ, you won’t let anything deter you from what you feel led to do, pursue, or change. Jeremiah had a similar passion and conviction about sharing God’s word and speaking on His behalf. Look at this awesome verse:

 

But if I say, ‘I will not mention Him or speak any more in His name,’ His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up

in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot. —Jeremiah 20:9 (niv)

 

A heart check

Jeremiah, like so many of God’s servants over the years was living a passionate life based on the conviction he needed t be obedient to God’s call on his life. Jeremiah knew his shape,even though it wasn’t called this then. Do you know your shape?  I encourage you to take a SHAPE profile and read more about it in Rick Warren’s best-selling book The Purpose Driven Life. Rick writes in his Ministry ToolBox : “At Saddleback, we talk about the five different factors that make up a person’s SHAPE: Spiritual gift(s), Heart, Abilities, Personalities, and Experiences. Why is this important? Why should we bother figuring out how God has shaped us? I’ll give you five benefits.” Warren then promises these five benefits from understanding your SHAPE.: reduces stress, increases success, determines how you learn, deepens satisfaction, and builds self-esteem.

Rick Warren says, “The heart represents the core of your desires, hopes, interests, dreams, ambitions, and affections. The heart is the seat and source of all your intentions and motivations, what you love to do and care most about. Your heart is the real you, what you really are, not what others think you are or what circumstances pressure you to be. The heart determines why you say and do what you do, and feel the way you do about it. Just as each of us has a unique heartbeat, so God has given each of us a unique “Emotional Heartbeat” that signifies our passion in living.”

“What you are passionate about reveals your emotional heartbeat—find your passion and you will find your heart. And God looks upon the heart. And God wants you to serve Him out of heartfelt passion, not duty. There are two basic characteristics that determine when you are serving God from your heart. First is enthusiasm: You will be working out of love and enjoyment. Second is effectiveness: When you do what God has shaped you to love doing, you will get good at it.”

Throughout the course of human history, many have led from their heart and passion and many were thought to be strange— this goes with the territory. The beautiful thing about this concept to me is when you tap into your passion, the ministry, and service you do just flows out and you are less likely to burnout. Leading from passion is a secret to endurance and success in life and ministry. When God wants to do a new thing (innovation) through you, He may very well start with something near and dear to your heart. He may give you a passion for something He wants to change or be done differently. Follow your heart. Follow your passion and be obedient to God’s call.

 

The following is a book excerpt from my new book Strange Leadership: 40 Ways to Lead an Innovative Organization.

 

 

Strange Leadership: 40 Ways to Lead an Innovative Organization

Strange-Leadership-book-cover-high-res-677x1024I have a brand new book that releases worldwide on Tuesday, April 29th, but we are asking as many as will to pre-order it today. I’ve been traveling, teaching and researching the subject of innovation in a Biblical context for the past 6 years. The result of this work is this new book entitled  Strange Leadership: 40 Ways to Lead an Innovative Organization.

Some friends came up with the idea to have a Strange Leadership Pre-Release Party for him today. Greg will be doing special promotional and pre-release stuff all day today, including an interview and live Google Hangout with CMM Featured Writer Jason Curlee at 11am CST and then Greg will be a guest on DJ Chuang’s Social Media Church Podcast at 4pm CST.

About the book:

Are you a leader in a Christian organization? Is your church, ministry, or business lacking innovation? Perhaps you’re experienced in trying new things and moving in new ways, but you haven’t ever tried anything strange. Truly innovative leaders are often considered strange. Don’t settle for everyday leadership; immerse yourself in Strange Leadership!

Greg gives 40 different ways the Bible teaches us to be strange leaders. Greg pulls from Scripture to illuminate these concepts and, from the words and writings of other leaders, to drive them home. Strange Leadership is practically an encyclopedia on the subject of innovation.

Here’s what some key leaders are saying about the book:

Innovation is imperative in today’s leadership culture. Strange Leadership reminds us all that innovation is about doing a whole new thing, that ultimately flows from God, the Chief Innovator. Thanks Greg for pointing us back to our true source for innovation and inspiration. – Brad Lomenick, President and Key Visionary of Catalyst and Author of The Catalyst Leader

Strange Leadership provides leadership help to teach you how innovation can come about in your life and organization by keeping God at the center and will equip you with practical thoughts to lead with integrity. – Pete Wilson, Senior Pastor of Cross Point Church and Author of Plan B and Let Hope In

To be effective, church leaders must be open to innovation. We have to be willing to allow something new to happen in our churches as we seek God’s leading; we have to stay on the cutting edge, so we can be relevant in the world we are trying to reach. One of the best ways to stay innovative is to listen to and learn from those who model biblical innovation every day, like my friend Greg Atkinson. – Nelson Searcy, Founder and Lead Pastor of The Journey Church, Author and Founder of ChurchLeaderInsights.com

Because leadership in Jesus’ upside-down Kingdom is so different and distinct from the world, it is “strange leadership.” In his book, Greg offers practical and helpful thoughts on leading others as one under the rule of God. – Eric Geiger, Author and Vice President LifeWay Christian Resources

Strange Leadership is an engrossing and enchanting collection of probes into the emerging field of innovation studies. It is filled with firecrackers, and sometimes even fireworks.  Leonard Sweet, best-selling author, professor (Drew University, George Fox University), Chief Contributor to sermons.com

It’s not a coincidence that God chose to introduce himself in the first verse of the Bible as a “Creator.”  I believe God puts a far higher value on creativity and innovation than most people believe.  That’s why I’m thrilled with Greg Atkinson’s new book.  It’s a wake up call to the Church and a powerful reminder that change is here whether we’re ready or not, and whether we like it or not.  Leaders – dismiss this book at your peril.  – Phil Cooke, Ph.D. – Filmmaker, Media Consultant, and author of Unique:  Telling Your Story in the Age of Brands and Social Media

What’s Should You Do?

To find out more about the book and/or to order your copy today, go HERE. Your support of my ministry and this new book project are a great encouragement to my ministry to church leaders around the world. There is a free downloadable team discussion guide on the book website. We encourage you to order multiple copies for your whole team and go through it with them. Innovation is possible and you might just find that you don’t mind being called a “Strange Leader.”

*** I want to encourage you to connect with me and the book online:

  • Follow @StrangeLeader on Twitter HERE.
  • Follow @GregAtkinson on Twitter HERE.
  • “Like”  the book and my author page on Facebook HERE and keep up with my writing, work and ministry to the Church.
  • Be sure to check out my first video podcast about the book on the Pastor Fury Podcast. Go here to check it out: https://armansheffey.com/iTunes 
  • Join our Thunderclap campaign to get the word out about the book’s official release date (April 29th). It will take you less than 5 minutes to help me out. Go HERE.

Thanks for your support!

Join the Strange Leadership Pre-Release Party!

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 6.24.57 PM

 

This Tuesday, April 15th (Tax Day), some friends of mine are throwing a Pre-Release Party for my new book Strange Leadership. We’ll be doing some fun stuff, giving away cool stuff and I’ll be a guest on a couple of live podcasts talking with church leaders about the book. I don’t want you to miss out on a thing, so go HERE to join the Pre-Release Party. Join in the fun and thanks for your support!

To read more details about the book and look around the book website, go here: StrangeLeadership.com

Monday, be sure to check out my first video podcast about the book on the Pastor Fury Podcast. Go here to check it out: https://armansheffey.com/iTunes 

The Secret to Good Customer Service

Tom-portrait-150x150Today’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:

“‘You bring stolen, lame, or sick animals. You bring this as an offering! Am I to accept that from your hands?’ asks the LORD.” – Malachi 1:13b

A few years ago, I signed up for a new online banking account and ran into problems. The site told me representatives eagerly awaited my call, so I took them up on their offer.

While I dozed during the on-hold music, someone finally mumbled a quiet string of syllables containing the word “help.” I explained my problem. Then re-explained it. After some frustrating banter, he summoned his boss, who offered to transfer me to their Web department. No thanks.

Pride motivated me to start the online process again. But of course I got stuck in the same place and called them back, and after another runaround, the lady promised to credit my account a whole $5 as part of their five-star service guarantee. I finally figured out the problem on my own. (I never received the $5.)

In another frustrating instance, I got home from an international trip, but my luggage didn’t. Seems the airline decided the plane was too heavy and pulled bags off indiscriminately. No one let me know my suitcases weren’t on the plane, so I waited at the carousel until other people’s baggage became more familiar than my own. I filed a claim at the airline’s counter and was told my stuff would be delivered as soon as possible.

The next day, a delivery guy left a message that he was in the area and needed directions to my house (even in the day of GPS and Google maps), but we never connected. The following day a different driver was on the job and left a message regretting that I wasn’t there to accept my bags. Finally, on the third try, a guy dropped by with the goods. He seemed impatient that I had been such a difficult customer.

Where is the heart of service in most organizations today?

Speaking on behalf of employers, we really do want to hire people who were born to serve! But they’re hard to find.

The Old Testament prophet Malachi brings ancient wisdom to bear on the issue. He stresses that God demands his people’s best, both in their service to him, but more importantly in their hearts. The prophet implores them to quit focusing on the process of worship and sacrifice, and rather change their hearts about what they give to God. They thought their pious rites were what God wanted.

In the same way, employee training is good, but it’s even more important to hire people who are already caring, helpful and friendly at their cores. When someone has a heart for finding solutions, reading a customer service script is the furthest thing from their mind.

Why Do So Many Pastors Leave The Ministry?

ID-100202165

The following is a book excerpt from my friend, Bo Lane’s new book Why Pastors Quit. Read on…

As we were driving home the other day, my wife, Melissa, made a passing comment that caused me to reflect on my time as a pastor. She said, “God called you to be a pastor.” Before I thought twice, I blurted out a response: “But did He really?”

Melissa leaned back, as if God was about to strike our car with lightening and send me down to a fiery pit of eternal damnation. I smiled.

“Maybe God make a mistake,” I said, “or maybe I was just listening to all the wrong voices.”

Growing up, I was a typical church kid. I said all the right things. I listened to all the sermons. I went to all the classes and volunteered wherever I was needed most. I joined the worship team at the age of twelve and was highly active in our small, but dedicated, youth group.

But on the inside, regardless of my involvement, nothing much was happening – nothing was really connecting deep within me so, I faked it. For quite some time, actually. And I was pretty good at faking it too. Or so I thought.

I wanted people to think that I was a good kid who had a good relationship with Jesus. But that wasn’t the case at all. I was a self-centered young man who cared more about what people thought of me than what God thought of me. I cared more about disappointing others than I cared about disappointing God.

But eventually (and thankfully) there came a time when the inner me and the external me collided. I was faced with a question: “Who are you living for?”

At the age of seventeen, sitting on the edge of my bed, I made the decision to follow Jesus and devote the entirety of my life to him. I made the decision to drop the hoax and start my own journey toward Jesus. From that moment on, I was like the Cookie Monster, trying to devour as much as I could as fast as I could.

And, for the first time in my life, I cared about Jesus.

Around that same time, I found myself in a unique situation. Within the course of two months, four different people approached me, at completely random times, with these words: “I feel God is calling you to be a pastor.”

One of those times in particular came when a guest – a pastor of a church in Wyoming – was visiting our church. During the middle of his message, he stopped, turned to where I was sitting, looked directly at me and echoed those same words: “Son, God is calling you to be a pastor.”

Right in the middle of his sermon. In a room full of people. He stopped and turned and looked at me and called me out. And that was it.

I became a pastor.

Long story short, my journey as a pastor had quite a few ups and downs. I was employed as an associate pastor for a number of years, working in churches throughout Oregon, Iowa, and California. Although there were many aspects of serving in full-time ministry that I loved, there were more things that happened along the way that made a negative impact on both myself and my family. After I resigned from the pastorate, it took several years of forgiving and getting plugged in to a healthy church before I really began to heal from the hurt.

A few years later I found myself working in the IT department at a local medical clinic. I remember a co- worker coming to me and asking if I wouldn’t mind talking and praying for her friend who was going through a challenging time. I was far from the pulpit, again I’d left full-time ministry a few years prior to this, and far from giving this lady the advice I thought she deserved.

Or so I felt.

As I talked and prayed with this lady, I couldn’t stop thinking about the whys behind leaving the ministry. The whys – not just for me but for the countless pastors who resign or are handed their pink slips – are quite shocking.

It’s true that some pastors fall into temptation and yet others simply feel it’s their time to call it quits. But often it goes much deeper than that.

And the surveys, one I found particularly interesting, reveal some stunning stats:

Most pastors are overworked.

Ninety percent of pastors report working between 55 to 75 hours per week and 50% feel unable to meet the demands of the job.

And 70% of pastors feel grossly underpaid.

Most pastors feel unprepared.

Ninety percent feel they are inadequately trained to cope with the ministry demands and 90% of pastors said the ministry was completely different than what they thought it would be like before they began.

Many pastors struggle with depression and discouragement.

Seventy percent of pastors constantly fight depression and 50% of pastors feel so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.

Wait, this is huge. Let’s pause here for a moment.

This means that half of the 1,700 or so pastors who leave the ministry each month have no other way of making a living. Their education and experience is wrapped up solely in the work of the ministry.

So, not only do pastors struggle with their choice to leave ministry, they have to worry about how they are going to feed their families.

Speaking of families, most pastor’s families are negatively impacted.

Eighty percent believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families. Equally, eighty percent of spouses feel the pastor is overworked and feel left out and under- appreciated by church members.

Many pastors are lonely.

Seventy percent do not have someone they consider a close friend and 40% report serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month.

And then there is this:

Fifty percent of the ministers starting out will not last 5 years. One out of every 10 ministers will actually retire as a minister in some form. And 4,000 new churches begin each year while 7,000 churches close.

Unfortunately, the statistics speak for themselves.

Working in ministry, whether you’re a full-time pastor or a lay minister balancing a job and a church, can be challenging and overwhelming. Families suffer and discouragement and depression – amongst a gamut of other things – runs like a river in the lives of those who sacrifice their own life to the cause of the church.

After I left the pastorate I was lonely and frustrated. I had given many years of my life to something I felt abandoned me. I questioned for many years the call of God on my life. Even today, some seven years after resigning I still have many questions that have gone unanswered. Maybe I was never actually called to be a pastor. Maybe God had a different plan for my life. Maybe God got it wrong. Or maybe I got it wrong.

Maybe we’ve all got it wrong.

Maybe it’s just our way of responding to an emotional connection we’ve made with Jesus along the way. Maybe it’s an obligation. Maybe it’s our response to what others have felt for us.

Maybe God calls us to be disciples and then calls us to holiness. Maybe that’s it. Maybe He doesn’t call us at all. Maybe He’s just waiting for us to decide.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”

I’m not sure this sort of death, sacrificing our lives for the sake of the pastorate, is what he was referring to.

 

BIO: Bo Lane is the founder of ExPastors.com and the author of Why Pastors Quit. He is married to Melissa and they have two beautiful children, Benjamin and Bella.

How to Multiply Your People’s Long-term Satisfaction

Tom-portrait-150x150Today’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:

“‘Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them — this is the Law and the Prophets.’”  – Mt 7:12 

In the famous Golden Rule, Christ taught followers how to live with each other, not just work together. He told them to treat their neighbors – coworkers, family, friends – like they themselves would want to be treated.

If you’ve ever worn a sports shirt or jacket made out of GORE-TEX, you may not realize that Gore, an 8,000-employee company, has operated without an organizational chart or formal chain of command since 1958. Teams hold each other accountable. Volunteer leaders emerge within the teams based on their knowledge or skills.

One of Bill Gore’s guiding principles is “Freedom to encourage, help, and allow other associates to grow in knowledge, skill, and scope of responsibility.” People growth comes before company growth – the Golden Rule at work.

Years ago I worked at Prism Radio, which owned three stations and had about 40 employees. Prism flew me and several other reps from around the country to Florida for sales training. They threw great Christmas parties, occasional mid-week celebrations, and in an industry known for fun-loving, we led the pack.

One year, the whole sales department went to Chicago to celebrate a great quarter. We later drove to Virginia for a thrill ride on the rapids of the Gauley River. We often picked up our clients in limos and took them to lunch. When the COO came to town, he encouraged rather than berated. My former boss and I are still great friends 15 years later.

In A Stake in the Outcome (Currency, 2002), author Jack Stack tells how he taught his employees at SRC Holdings the basics of finance and then provided them with all the information they needed to monitor their own performance. Five years after implementing the program, SRC went from a startup with heavy debt to a profitable $43 million in sales. In 2007, SRC reached $300 million with 1,200 employees. Thousands have traveled from all over the world to tour the company and discover exactly how Stack built this culture of success.

In addition to providing meaningful work and a sense of significance to his people, he gave them stock in the company. Several became millionaires as a result. SRC invested in employee-owned spinoffs, ultimately creating a portfolio of 47 businesses. Inc. magazine named SRC “one of America’s most competitive small companies.”

These three companies proved the value of treating people like gold: dividends that multiply in unforeseen ways, for years to come.

 

 

Faith Village Interviews Me About ‘Church Leadership Essentials’

FaithVillage CLE interview

By Blake Atwood

Source: FaithVillage.com

Greg Atkinson’s Twitter bio neatly summarizes the many ministry hats he’s worn over the last 20 years: “Greg is a servant of Christ, husband, father, pastor, author, speaker and consultant.”

In those two decades, he’s learned much about what it means to be a church leader. He’s now taken those lessons and has distilled them into Church Leadership Essentials: What Every Pastor Needs to Know.

For an opportunity to win a print copy of Greg’s book, comment on this article with something you think is a defining characteristic of a church leader.

FaithVillage spoke with Greg about his book, one that would be a welcome addition to any pastor’s library.

Why did you write Church Leadership Essentials? What makes it unique compared to the many church leadership books already on the market?

I wrote Church Leadership Essentials because, after speaking at numerous conferences over the last 14 years, I’ve seen that many pastors and church leaders were not properly and practically prepared for real ministry in Bible college or seminary. This is a leadership book that is specifically geared toward the church and ministry in general.

As my former boss and pastor Pete Briscoe once said, “The world for which we were trained no longer exists.”

Who’s the ideal audience for Church Leadership Essentials?

The audience is pastors and church leaders of all types. Whether you’re full-time, part-time, bi-vocational or volunteer, there is a nugget of wisdom or two in the book for you, which is full of leadership lessons and principles I’ve learned over two decades of ministry.

What chapter in Church Leadership Essentials is your favorite? Why?

My favorite chapter is the last chapter. It is a look back on 20 years in ministry. I share my heart and reveal what God has taught me as I look back over the last two decades. It’s close to my heart because I share that God uses weak, broken, messed up people for His glory.

Church Leadership Essentials is a direct result of your blogging. Can you recall why you started blogging in the first place?

In the summer of 2006, my friend Don Chapman of WorshipIdeas.com was visiting me in Dallas. I was driving to Oklahoma City to speak at a conference and Don came with me. It was about a three-hour drive and I started sharing some ideas, resources and new companies that I had come across. Don directly and boldly said, “Dude, you have got to start blogging. Church leaders would really benefit from what you’re sharing with me.”

That night Don went online to GoDaddy and bought the domain name: ChurchVideoIdeas.com and said, “Here you go. Now get to blogging!” I started a cheesy-looking WordPress blog and the rest is history. Thanks to my great Charter Sponsors, I was able to give my blog a face-lift. It’s been through several design changes over the years.

The “why” is simple. I have a heart for the Church (capital “C”). My heart and passion is for the Kingdom and equipping Church leaders — that’s why I write, that’s why I consult, that’s why I speak at conferences. I love Christ’s Bride and want to be a friend, helper, encourager and equipper to Church leaders around the world.

Praise God, people actually care what I have to say. Almost every day I receive an email from a church leader asking me a question. Many of you reading this who have sent me an email hopefully have seen that I try to answer your email promptly and to the best of my knowledge. I wrote this book to answer many of the problems and scenarios that I’ve seen or heard of all too often from leaders around the world.

Do you think all pastors should blog? Why or why not?

Good question. I’ve taught on this in the past and tried to answer it numerous times. I used to just simply say, “Yes.” Now my answer has evolved and I don’t think blogging is a good fit for every pastor.

One, to be a good blogger, you have to have something to say and you have to blog regularly and consistently. Lots of pastors and church leaders have started blogs with the best intentions, and then I check on them months later and their last post was weeks or months ago. That’s a sure-fire way to lose an audience and momentum. But, if you can commit the time and you have something original, useful, practical and insightful to say, I say, “Go for it!”

Aside from the Bible and your book, what other five church leadership books should every pastor have in their library?

You’re heavily involved in online ministry, and you have been for quite some time. Why is it important for church leaders to be involved in online ministry, even if it’s only through one online outlet?

Being involved in online ministry (social media especially) is essential for communication with our congregations now. We cover this a ton at Christian Media Magazine where I’m Editor. I believe that pastors and church leaders should definitely be on Facebook (that’s why I wrote the Foreword to Facebook for Pastors).

Being on Facebook is a way to be reachable, approachable and let your people see that you’re a normal, regular guy or gal. It breaks down the barrier between the pulpit and the pew. If you’re going to your kid’s recital or ballgame or on a date with your spouse, share it on Facebook and allow your people to see you outside of the guy that delivers the sermon each week.

I use Twitter (@GregAtkinson) mainly to learn from, communicate with and share with peers and professionals in ministry. If you are to be a life-long learner (which I feel strongly about), you can learn a ton by being active and engaged on Twitter.

Now, consider adding Greg’s book “Church Leadership Essentials: What Every Pastor Needs to Know” to your church leader library, check out his blog at GregAtkinson.com and read more about the book at ChurchLeadershipEssentials.com.

Comment below with one defining characteristic you think every church leader should have, and you’ll be entered into a drawing to win a print copy of Greg’s book.

Buy Now

Q&A with Jenni Catron – Author of Clout

Clout-cover

 

I recently read the book Clout by Jenni Catron on a road trip. I caught up with Jenni and asked her questions about the book and why she wrote it. Here is the interview:

Greg: Why did you write Clout and what do you hope it accomplishes?

Jenni: I wrote this book out of the overflow of what God has been teaching me as a leader. I have a deep desire to lead well, but a few years ago I began to realize there were some things that were holding me back. These clout killers were sabotaging my influence and the more I talked with other leaders, the more I discovered that others were wrestling with these same issues as well. My hope is that this book provides a framework for others to discover and unleash their God-given influence.

Greg: Why is this book important and relevant in today’s culture?

Jenni: Our culture desperately needs strong, emotionally healthy leaders, but leaders can never lead well until they learn to lead themselves. I truly hope that Clout will be a resource that equips us to lead ourselves well so we can lead others well.

Greg: How is Clout different than other books on leadership?

Jenn: Most books on influence focus on what it takes to earn influence. They focus forward but they don’t take a look back. In Clout, I attempt to do both. I challenge us to reflect on what has been inhibiting our influence but then provide a framework to discover and unleash our influence moving forward.

Greg: Who do you think will benefit the most from Clout, and why?

Jenni: Anyone who struggles with finding clarity in their purpose will resonate with Clout. I wrote this book to provide a way for those who feel stuck in their leadership to reflect on what might be holding them back, yet give them some concrete steps to move forward confidently in their influence.

Greg: How does discovering your very own clout help you unleash your God-given influence?

Jenni: Understanding your clout positions you to live fully from the gifts, talents, experiences and opportunities that God has given to you – and ONLY to you. When you truly understand h ow uniquely God has designed you and how specifically he has equipped you, you will thrive.

Greg: As an experience church leader at a very active church, what is the 1 (or 2 or 3) pieces of advice you’d want most to share with fellow church leaders?

Jenni: For church leaders, I would encourage you to apply the principals of Clout to your church as well as yourself. God has given your church its very own clout. Rather than compare and compete with other churches, identify the unique influence that God has designed your church for and lead confidently in that way.

Additionally, as a church leader you are in a strategic place to encourage both the staff and your congregation to actively pursue their God-given influence. When people start to get a glimpse of the unique way that God has created and gifted them, you see them come alive. When an entire community of faith is operating from their clout, there is no limit to what God could do through you.

Greg: How can reading Clout help them increase the impact of their ministry?

Jenni: I truly believe God dreams big dreams for us, but I think we sabotage those dreams when we take our focus off of the unique way God has gifted us. When we as ministry leaders get clarity on our clout, it frees us from striving for things we’re not designed for and empowers us to maximize the influence we do have. When we’re living from our God-given influence we have the potential to make our greatest mark for the Kingdom of God.

 

*** Jenni blogs at www.JenniCatron.com and contributes to a number of other online publications. For more information on Clout, go to www.DiscoverClout.com.

 

Leading Yourself – Know Your Role

Leading Yourself.jpg

Last year, I wrote a long piece or short ebook on leading yourself. I’m going to roll it out, piece by piece, over the next couple of weeks on my blog. This has never been published before. So here we go. Here’s the fifth piece:

Know Your Role

Anyone in ministry is a person under authority. From the senior pastor answering to a board, trustees or the congregation (depending on your governance) to the executive pastor answering to the senior pastor, to all staff (paid and volunteer) answering to the executive pastor or senior pastor. Everyone reports to somebody and should be held accountable.

Ultimately, we all answer to the Head of the Church: Jesus Christ. Colossians 3:23 tells us “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” But on a practical, day-to-day working relationship, how does this whole concept work itself out?

Basically, we need to keep in mind that there are no lone rangers in ministry. Ministry should be done as a team and everyone should have someone that holds them accountable for goals set, discipline, and growth as a professional and a leader.

In a meeting, when something is being discussed, you have every right to speak up, voice your opinion and fight for something you’re passionate about, but once the decision has been made, you must get on board and champion that cause as if it was your idea.

If you have something against your senior leadership (pastor, executive pastor, or elders/deacons) – keep that to yourself and take the initiative to seek them out (Matt. 18) and discuss your grievance with them privately. Don’t bad mouth your leadership to others inside or outside the church.

I don’t care how big the name, how great the personality or how gifted the communicator – all leaders are replaceable. Rick Warren could leave Saddleback and Saddleback would go on. Craig Groeschel could leave LifeChurch.tv and it would go on. Andy Stanley could leave North Point and it would go on. You get the picture.

This is a sign of good leadership and a church (local Body of Christ) that is not personality-driven and ego-centric. There are some churches (I’m not going to name them – that’s not the point of this) that would crumble if something happened to their senior pastor. That is a shame and a sign of poor leadership.