Month: January 2018

3 Questions, Big Picture

The Undercurrent of the 3 Questions

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If you have been with me from the beginning, or even for the past few months, you have likely read about the foundation for 3QL. If not, please check it out by clicking here.

The short version is a few years ago I stumbled onto three questions I have since been teaching student leaders. I hope to train and equip student leaders (and adults, too) to change their mindset when encountering different situations.

Here’s why: I believe we, as leaders, can influence the direction of an organization (or a situation) by being intentional. The influence may not provide immediate results, resulting in a painstakingly slow process, but it can be done.

Let’s think about this another way: when I become part of something, I want it to get better. How do I help make it better? By increasing my awareness (what needs to be done), my willingness (what can I do), and my leadership (who can I get to help).

One of my main goals is to raise up a generation of leaders who get involved, stay involved, and when they leave, leave things better because they were there. In student ministry, the results seem simple enough to measure. In the real world, however, things are usually trickier.

But the question has to start with me: am I making the things around me better? Am I equipping and training other people to accomplish what I’m accomplishing? Am I hogging responsibilities and thus preventing someone else from doing something they love? Am I setting my church (and not just the student ministry) up to win because of my time spent serving?

The goal of leadership is to make the world a better place because of our having been in it. What are you doing to equip those around you to be influencers and not participators? What steps can you take this week to help others grow their influence?

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Big Picture, Check it Out, Leadership Journey

Books that Altered My Path

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I have recently experienced a renewed interest in reading. Now, I am not reading through an inordinate number of books, but I am trying to stretch my mind by reading.

But today I thought I would share one of the books that has had the largest and most enduring impact on my ministry. I remember reading this around 2008, and the concepts are still shaping the way I preach today. So, here it is: Communicating for a Change by Andy Stanley.

This is a book on preaching. Sounds riveting, right? Actually, it turns into a pretty quick read. The book itself is divided into two parts. The first part is a story that seeks to introduce the concept of the second part, which is the nuts and bolts of the approach.

You can search for in depth reviews of the book, but for the purpose of this post, I am going to share two things that have shaped my ministry as a result of reading it.

First, I don’t have to teach every idea in a passage in one message. Andy tells a story in the book about he and his wife visiting a church and on the way home saying “That was a good series in one sermon.” Sometimes, as communicators, we can overwhelm our audience with too much information. It is okay to take our time and unpack concepts over weeks.

The second lasting impact from this book is to develop a simple, portable, and memorable statement. The statement should be emphasized throughout the message, should be relevant, and should be simple. A few statements I have developed over the years are: God loves you and desires a relationship with you; Worship is the way you live your life; Words reveal intent. Actions reveal heart; and You can’t see the end from the middle.

Bottom line: this book is worth your time, especially if you teach/preach/communicate on a regular basis. I keep extra copies in my office anytime I find it on sale. If you haven’t read it before, click below and buy it today!

 

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Big Picture, Incoherent Ramblings, Leadership Journey

Incoherent Ramblings

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I’ve never actually spent any time explaining my categories, so let’s change that.

One of my favorite categories developed last year as I had an intern. As we began the process, I wanted to make sure I was not just assigning her some work to do, but instead was taking time to share with her things I have learned over the years.

So, in order to accomplish that goal, I started making a list of different lessons and tips I have picked up and developed. We carved out time each week to sit down and I would share my “Incoherent Ramblings”.

The topics ranged anywhere from lessons learned in ministry (Don’t let someone’s character surprise you and Don’t hide from hard conversations) to more practical tips (like this one from last week on fundraising). But, there was a nice consistency to the meeting time.

Here on the blog, so much of what I write about falls into the Incoherent Rambling territory. I don’t have to say that I have yet to figure everything out, but I do love learning along the way.

So, today, what would be on your list of incoherent ramblings? What are some tips and tricks you have picked up along the way, the things you think need to be communicated and passed on to the next generation? Have you started a list?

Leave a comment and let me know what you would include!

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Incoherent Ramblings, Leadership Journey

3 Fundraising Tips

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I am a full time youth pastor. So much of the leadership lessons I learn come from real life experiences. I aim for my content to apply to a broad range, but today I am going to take a slightly different approach and narrow my audience.

Over the last 15 years in paid ministry, I have picked up a few tips along the way to help with fundraising. I have only served in churches where the youth ministry was expected to fundraise to help offset camp and mission trip fees. Here are some tips gleaned along the way.

  1. Context is King – Every church where I have served has had different responses to different events. Some of my favorite fundraisers early on were Ice Cream “Freeze-Offs”, where recently the response hasn’t been so great. Ultimately, find what works in your context. Just because someone had a good experience with it at a different church or town, does not guarantee it will work everywhere.
  2. Offset Costs Where Possible – Recently, I have found having kids sign up to bring the different supplies helps to save a significant amount of money. For example, we will do a “Taco Pile-On” fundraiser lunch in a few weeks. Early on, I would have bought the necessary toppings out of the youth budget. Starting a few years ago, however, I realized if I had kids bring the toppings, then our out of pocket expense would be zero, which meant every dollar received was profit.
  3. Balance On-Site with Off-Site – Depending on the church policies, if you’re able to fund raise off site, try to find a good balance between fundraisers held at church and fundraisers held elsewhere. Make the most of town events. In my current context, our town hosts a city wide garage sale day. In the past we have held our own garage sale (with donated items), sold breakfast burritos, and sold burger deals.

Ultimately, fundraising is something you get better at as you go along, especially with evaluation. What are some things you’ve learned along the way?

If you found this helpful, share it with a friend!

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3 Questions, Incoherent Ramblings, Leadership Journey

Changing Environments

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I have a very bad habit of driving somewhere, putting my vehicle in park, and sitting in the vehicle for a while before I get out. Sometimes, I do this because I’m listening to sports radio and want to hear the end of the thought being expressed, or maybe I’m just moving slow that day. But occasionally, I hesitate because I don’t want to trade one climate for the other.

If it is bitterly cold outside, then the warmth of my vehicle is too appealing.

If it is raining, I dread stepping out into the rain. (This one doesn’t happen very often as we rarely get rain.)

If the heat outside is blistering, then the allure of the A/C can be too much.

In leadership, we have to be careful about developing a similar habit.

We may find ourselves waiting outside a meeting where we know the atmosphere will be chilled by attitudes.

Or maybe we hesitate to call an important meeting because we fear what may take place.

Or we put off having a tough conversation out of fear the conversation will go to a dangerous place.

Understand this: if you are in a position of leadership, find the balance between looking for problems to blow up and hiding from situations that scare you. You do not have to become a bulldog that tears into every conflict with glee, but you also cannot afford to be a turtle who hides in your shell at the first sign of unpleasantness.

As a leader, someone has placed trust in you to lead, so make the most of that trust.

Over the years, I have found that when I hesitate to do something, my hesitation is a key indicator the something needs to be done. I seldom worry and put off things that do not matter. Is that true for you? What are your own signs of the need for something to be done?

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