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5 Ways Leadership is Changing

5 Ways Leadership is Changing

  “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” This quote from Mike Tyson reminds me that leaders in this day and age must be  able know what to do when the unexpected arrives. How do we adjust? The past two decades have brought wave after wave of changes: from 9/11, Al

Words that define your church’s culture

Words that define your church’s culture

We get what we deserve when it comes to creating our church’s culture. Church’s culture doesn’t happen by accident. It’s created and reinforced by what you say and do on a regular basis. Culture is often described as the way we do things here just as Hewlett-Packard used to talk about theHP Way.  Viewing culture

7 WAYS  YOU SABOTAGE YOUR TEAM

7 WAYS YOU SABOTAGE YOUR TEAM

Leaders set the tone for an organization and model the way for their team members.  What impact are you having on your team? You may be inadvertently be sabotaging the efforts of your your  team when . . . You do not listen deeply to the the people you lead.  Do you know their hopes

Use journaling to clarify what matters

Use journaling to clarify what matters

Journaling helps me clarify my thinking, process my feelings, and make better decisions and remove the nonessentials from my life. I used to struggle with consistency until I made following changes: So here’s what I shared with her: Use a journaling template. That’s exactly what I’ve done with my journaling template. I have gone through several iterations,

8 tips to pass on to annual meeting presenters

8 tips to pass on to annual meeting presenters

Many churches are preparing for their annual meetings taking place the end of January. How might you make these events a time of celebration and a time for inspiring people about what’s next as your live into God’s intentions for your church? Start with helping every presenter become a storyteller, sharing tangible ways your church

When balls get dropped

When balls get dropped

For projects to move forward, every team member needs to do their part at the appropriate time. Unfortunately, balls often get dropped by one or more team members which often delays the entire project. How do we ensure that this doesn't become a common occurrence? I've found three  strategies that seemed to lesson these situations:
12 signs that your church is stuck

12 signs that your church is stuck

Transformational leaders don’t run when they see a need for change. They embrace it and demonstrate the courage needed to navigate the required change. They realize that change happens on a macro-level as well as a micro-level and that change almost ways leads to some level of conflict.  Some leaders have a tendency  to pretend

7 ways to turn criticism into constructive critique

7 ways to turn criticism into constructive critique

Effective leaders learn to provide timely, grace filled feedback that results in bringing out the best in their paid and volunteer team members. The challenge is to offer feedback that is well-received and enables people to act on it. Listed below are seven tips for turning criticism into constructive critique. Always request permission before you

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR TEAM

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR TEAM

Teams, not managers, need to decide what’s important to their engagement. They can do that by answering a handful of key questions. Top-down solutions may produce clarity, but they don’t inspire buy-in or practicality. Measuring employee engagement is essential for companies that want to perform at their peak. But let’s be clear about one thing: Measurement doesn’t cause engagement. Many companies use Gallup’s Q

BECOMING MORE NIMBLE & ADAPTIVE

BECOMING MORE NIMBLE & ADAPTIVE

Moving from mediocrity to excellence requires individuals and teams to be more nimble and adaptive. It necessitates involving people who are open-minded, naturally curious and are willing to initiate action without being asked to do so. Listed below are a few ways to become more agile as an individual, team and organization. Measure the value

learnings about leadership

learnings about leadership

Just about every congregation I coach seeks to engage young adults in the life and ministry of the congregation.  So often, though, congregations sabotage their best efforts in doing so.  Listed below are 10 tips, shared by young adults, for engaging them more fully in mission and ministry. State the WHY before sharing the WHAT.

The power of less

The power of less

As I seek to “travel lighter,” I’ve become more aware of how I unnecessarily complicate my life and distract myself from “the vital few” that matter most. I’ve abandoned complex workouts, preferring to focus on just four daily exercises – walking 10,000 steps, doing pushups or bench presses, and performing crunches and lunges. The simpler

Preparing VS procrastinating

Preparing VS procrastinating

Coaching involves bringing out God’s best in people and the ministries they oversee. As leaders, we often sabotage our best intentions and fail to achieve our desired results. Three questions I often raise during coaching sessions when there has been less progress than I anticipated include: Are you living out of your commitments or your

Quotes from The New Parish

Quotes from The New Parish

Several quotes from the book, The New Parish, have captured my attention based on my work with a congregational visioning team and recent conversations with people connected our “Do What Matters” conferences. Listed below are quotes from the book that challenge my assumptions and stretch my imaginations. The parish is a dare to your faith.

13 questions to ask your volunteers

If we seek to share the ministry with people who are invested in our Christian communities, then how we invite them into ministry and position them for maximum impact is critical.  Here are 13 questions I frequently ask volunteers (partners in ministry) before and during their period of service. Questions discerning WHERE a person might

Why churches become stalled

Why churches become stalled

I frequently  hear leaders ask the following two questions: “Why aren’t we growing?” and “Why aren’t we moving forward, faster?” I think it’s fair to assume that thriving congregations should grow in a variety of ways and that congregations should be continuously moving toward God’s preferred future. Here are five traits that could be hindering

10 Ways Churches Limit Their Growth

10 Ways Churches Limit Their Growth

I believe that healthy congregations grow, if not numerically, at least in compassion, discipleship and in acts of service to their communities. Unfortunately, the potential for growth and vitality is often diminished by the following mindsets and practices: They make it hard for people to contribute by maintaining complex organizational structures, convoluted reporting systems, confusing

Tangled fishing lines

My parents had a cottage in northern Minnesota where we spent a fair amount of time fishing as a family.  My dad’s role was to bait the hook and remove the fish we caught. He also spent a good amount of time untangling the fishing lines. When I think of how congregations organize themselves and

The ABCs of effective communication

Every congregation needs clarity about why it exists, who they seek to reach, how they will serve their intended audience and what value, in the form of transformed lives and communities, they seek to provide.  But clarity isn’t enough.  The purpose and priorities of an organization have to be communicated in ways that people understand,

Are you rehashing or reimagining ministry?

As  I read several congregations’ newsletters and ministry plans, I get the impression that most plans being made for the 2014-15 ministry year are simply a rehash of what’s been done in the past.  The planning processes seem to revolve around “what’s been” rather that “what might be?”  I think what’s missing in many congregations

How are traditions anchoring your ministry?

How are traditions anchoring your ministry?

Traditions are powerful and often serve as anchors, helping congregations avoid mission drift by reminding people of what’s important and reminding people of what God has done and continues to do in and through God’s people. Traditions can become anchors that keep congregations stuck in the past and prevent congregations from moving forward. Traditions usually start

Thinking bigger about faith formation

Thinking bigger about faith formation

When I check out congregational websites, I’m always surprised with how much content is focused on what happens within the walls of the congregation.  In regard to faith formation, most websites would have you believe that the only way person is spiritually fed is to come to church and participate in a structured program.  

Spiritual malnourishment

Spiritual malnourishment

One of the most pressing issues facing the congregations today is the spiritual malnourishment of their members.  The problem isn’t so much what happens on Sunday. For many Christians, this is a day of feasting. The challenge arises when Christians choose to fast spiritually the rest of the week. Spiritual malnourishment is a choice that can be

5 questions to frame your future

5 questions to frame your future

  The best congregations don’t create members. They create disciples who are passionate about creating more disciples. In Peter Drucker’s book, The Five Most Important Questions, the author helps leaders focus on doing what matters most.  These questions provide a foundation for assessing what you are doing, why you are doing it, and what you must

Five learnings about leading in a time of constant change

Five learnings about leading in a time of constant change

Our Certschool students walk through the 6-step change process found in the book, Surface to Soul. In addition, they read John Kotter’s article describing the 8 reasons why transformation efforts fail. Collectively, we review the learnings found in the book, Switch, by Dan and Chip Heath, and then discuss Ron Heifetz’s work on adaptive change. I’ve added

CREATE STICKY FAITH AT HOME

CREATE STICKY FAITH AT HOME

What can parents or grandparents do to help teenagers have faith that lasts a lifetime? The Lifelong Faith Journal edition titled, Parents & Faith Formation, provides several suggestions. I’ve listed a few below from the articles as well as added a few of my own. Think about which ones may be relevant to your setting. Share

Are you making it easy to give?

When I need cash, I often hit up my one of my sons. Why? Because I rarely go to a bank since my  paycheck is deposited directly into my checking account, and I rarely go to an ATM to get cash. Since most places accept a debit or credit card, and I pay bills and

Using technology to turbocharge ministry

Using technology to turbocharge ministry

Technology can greatly simplify your ministry efforts while enhancing your capacity to build connections among people, communicate vision, form faith, and manage projects. Thoughtfully-chosen technology tools, if introduced at the the appropriate time, should lighten a person’s ministry load while maximizing the ways people can participate. Technology tools can extend the weekly worship experience into people’s

Are you sending mixed messages?

A question I always ask myself after an onsite training or coaching visit is, “Would I join this church if I was new to the area?” The congregations where I struggle to respond with a heartfelt “yes” are the ones that send me mixed messages. Simply put, their words and actions don’t seem to reflect what

8 GROUND  RULES FOR MEETINGS

8 GROUND RULES FOR MEETINGS

The majority of people I know seem to dread going to meetings. They will complain about the meetings starting late and ending even later, having to listen to two people dominate the discussion, and the general lack of clarity about what is to be accomplished during these times together. I’ve noticed that most people seem

Why transformation efforts fail

In a few hours I head to France to enjoy the sights of Paris and to participate in the Taize community.  Joining a dozen or so young adults, it will be a time of learning and laughter filled with many new insights and experiences. Engaging with other cultures requires individuals to change, adapt, and be

BECOMING INTENTIONALLY CROSS+GENERATIONAL

BECOMING INTENTIONALLY CROSS+GENERATIONAL

Research points out that strong congregations are made up of strong families. The findings suggest that separating family members and faith parents from each other for faith formation experiences is counterproductive for congregations. Engaging the extended family in intergenerational faith forming experiences build faith by providing opportunities for children, parents, grand parents, god parents, extended

Young adults and faith formation

Young adults and faith formation

Demonstrate to members how to make and deepen friendship. Help members move beyond their comfort zones so that they naturally introduce themselves to others they know know or can’t remember their name. Teach members how to deepen existing friendships through caring conversations. Young people in our congregations should be able to name at least three

Using your website to form faith

Using your website to form faith

Websites and social media sites I view on behalf of coaching congregations often do not reflect the vitality I find while visiting these same congregations.  Nor do the web and social media sites seem to be extensions of what people are experiencing first-hand within their congregational settings. Web and social media sites should be viewed

Embrace rhythms that renew you

Embrace rhythms that renew you

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 As we recognize the start of a new church season today, I’m reminded of the important role that rhythms play in our lives and our ministries. So often ministry feels more like a marathon rather than a series of sprints with breaks in between. When I fail to pace myself, avoid weaving sabbath moments

Ask questions like a journalist

Ask questions like a journalist

  How might your ministry change if you began interacting and interviewing people like Barbara Walters or Charlie Rose? How might you get more value from your meetings if they were framed through the lens of powerful questions? An essential skill leaders must master is being able to formulate questions that deliver useful answers and

Five Ways Churches Squelch Spiritual Vitality

Five Ways Churches Squelch Spiritual Vitality

I’ve seen patterns emerging in faith communities this past year that seem to squelch their spiritual vitality.  These patterns become road blocks or speed bumps that limit people’s capacity to experience a life-shaping faith in Jesus Christ. An overarching concern I have is the prevalence of people who do not experience authentic community within their

Take time to reflect

“We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.” ― John Dewey Whether it’s a worship service, training event or a conference, I’m concerned about how little time people allocate to reflecting upon and exploring the implications of what they have learned or experienced. When I ask pastors and faith formation directors what

Building a bridge to 21st century faith formation

Building a bridge to 21st century faith formation

  I’m surprised by the number of church leaders I see beating themselves up as they try to make programs and ministries work when, in reality, the challenges they’re facing are out of their control due to societal shifts.  Their “try harder” approaches are not working because these adaptive challenges need to be framed and

Work smarter; live better

A question I often ask leaders I coach is, “What do you do for fun?” and more often than not, they answer, “Not much.” We’ve allowed ministry to consume our lives to the detriment of our families, fitness and overall quality of life.  We have normalized 55+ hour work weeks rather than stepping back and

Endings and beginnings

Endings and beginnings

The ending or beginning of a new calendar year, program year or church season provide opportunities to reflect on the past and to imagine what God is up to in our lives. In preparation for the season of Advent I usually take a short trip to the Grand Canyon a few days before Thanksgiving.  I

10 tips for creating emails that people read

After spending the last several hours reading, replying and deleting 500+ emails in my inbox, I decided to take a short break and offer my “top 10” list on how to create emails that people actually read and respond to. If time is people’s most valuable resource, consider ways you can write emails that are

Insights from teaching a dog to sit

Insights from teaching a dog to sit

As congregational leaders, we have a lot to learn from animal trainers. Animal trainers have a saying: “It’s never the animal’s fault” understanding that you can’t blame an animal for something the trainer has failed to do. Similarly, if people are not making the changes we hoped for, the first step might be is to

Mission statements or taglines?

25 years ago, Nike created a three word tagline than can be readily recited by millions of people. Few people, however, could repeat  its current mission statement which is, “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.” As congregations wrestle with how best utilize a tagline or mission statement, it’s important to

Everyone communicates, few connect

This month I’ll be highlighting a number of communication tools for leaders to help them articulate what matters most to your congregation in ways that connect with others and cause people to take action. In his book, Everyone Communicates, Few Connect, John C. Maxwell takes readers through the Five Connecting Principles and the Five Connecting

Ten tips for orienting leaders

If our goal is to bring out the best in our leaders and help them contribute to fulfilling the congregation’s mission, then we need to take time to orient them about what matters most and what they absolutely need to know or be able to do to be successful. Group orientation sessions seem to be

Broadening faith formation pathways

Broadening faith formation pathways

  How are we helping people learn on their own and learn online? Do we provide Bible reading plans? Do we provide a list of recommended books about the Bible, theology, prayer and spiritual practices? Do we provide or direct people to online Bible and theology courses? Do we provide or direct people to podcasts,

Taking time to review, reflect and reimagine

Taking time to review, reflect and reimagine

In the process of interviewing pastors who have  recently retired or ended a call and I've discovered a pattern of regrets related to how they wish they would have spent their time, energy, resources and political capital. As you view this list, consider which comments resonate with you and your particular setting :    “I

What’s a picture worth?

Visual images  allow us to communicate in ways that  words aren’t always capable of. Think of the Vietnam War and the naked girl running from a napalm attack. Think of the two airplanes flying into the World Trade Center. Think of the Neil Armstrong taking his first step on the moon. Think of the imagery

Can your leaders answer these questions?

Can your leaders answer these questions?

Thinking strategically involves  asking the right questions at the right time.  When I begin a new coaching relationship with a congregation, I often ask pastors and other leaders to respond to these five questions: “Who are we?” This gets at the congregation’s DNA. Do the people of God within your congregation understand and embrace  its

Avoiding Ground Hog Day

Avoiding Ground Hog Day

In the movie Groundhog Day, Bill Murray experiences the same day over and over. I see this same phenomena occur in congregations when I see the same programs offered year after year with little attention paid to their impact. I see Ground Hog Day occur when meetings continue to be run in ways that are described

Before you develop a strategic plan

Before you develop a strategic plan

Over the years, I’ve seen way too many congregations spend countless hours developing detailed strategic plans only to have them end up in the archives section of the church library.  I believe this is due to not fully understanding the purpose of having a plan as well as how the plan will be used upon

Thinking strategically

This month we’ll be addressing ideas and concepts related to thinking strategically and how to develop short-term and long-term strategic plans that reflect God’s intentions, energize members and bear fruit.  As I’ve observed congregations that have been successful in living into God’s preferred future for their organization, I’ve noticed that they have these four habits

Changing our team conversations

Changing our team conversations

Ministry teams can easily become stuck by spending their time on things that don’t really matter.  I often refer to Anthony Robinson’s book, Changing the Conversation, during training sessions, reminding teams to pay closer attention what they’re discussing when they spend time together. Listed below are topics you may wish to include at one or

BUILD TRUST IN TEAMS

BUILD TRUST IN TEAMS

Trust is the foundation for all healthy relationships and is an essential component found in all healthy teams.  Trust is the belief that those on whom we depend will meet our expectations. Trust assumes that others will not deliberately hurt us or take advantage of our reliance on them. Our trust in others is not

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR TEAM

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR TEAM

Team members need to take responsibility for ensuring the success of the team.  This requires team members to be positive and proactive. Listed below are some questions I often ask when serving on a team.  These questions help me do my best work, help me discern if I’m a good fit and help me explore

CREATE A TEAM COVENANT

CREATE A TEAM COVENANT

Vibrant Faith Ministries has a ritual of regularly recites our mission statement and the following covenant at our weekly meetings. This 60 second agenda item reminds team members how we intend to treat one another as we fulfill our mission. It provides a foundation for describing what is appropriate behavior and what isn’t, giving members

THE WISDOM OF TEAMS

THE WISDOM OF TEAMS

A team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals and an approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable. What’s your definition a team and how do you ensure that they’re effective? When churches ask for assistance in launching teams. I usually ask them

10 traits of vital congregations

10 traits of vital congregations

  In preparation for a training event this week, I’ve put together a list of 10 traits that I regularly see in vibrant congregations. As you read through the list, make note of the traits that exist in your congregation. Make note of what’s missing in your setting. 1. They focus on the Great Commandment

Meetings as worshipful work

Meetings as worshipful work

stay engaged in the life of the congregation when they rotate off the board or council bring more energy and insight to meetings while growing in vitality and spiritual maturity are empowered to the share ministry with clergy and members at large. Meetings as Worshipful Work If we redefine the activity of the people of

Myths that get in the way of ministry

Myths that get in the way of ministry

The assumptions we hold about ministry may be the reason we feel like we’re in a rut rather than a groove. Listed below are  5 myths I frequently observe when coaching congregations. Myth 1: We cannot place expectations on our members. Community organizations and sports clubs have no problem communicating clear expectations about people’s involvement yet

10 reasons why we have trouble getting things done

Why can’t we get anything done?  If we’re so well trained and so well informed, then why aren’t we a lot more effective?  Here are 10 reasons why I feel that there’s a gap between what people know and what they do. 1. Doing something requires … doing something! It’s easier and safer to have conversations

CARING CONVERSATIONS | WHY THEY MATTER

CARING CONVERSATIONS | WHY THEY MATTER

I often hear people, particularly young adults, comment that they disengaged from their congregation due to their inability to establish significant relationships with other members. One young adult commented, “My church was interested in getting me involved on a committee so that there would be young adult representation, but they really weren’t  interested in learning

Letting go of not letting go

Letting go of not letting go

While waiting for my flight home from Detroit to Minneapolis today, I heard two men despairing about the decline in worship attendance at their congregations. Both highlighted pending changes they were hoping would taking place in the near future – replacing the minister, hiring a youth worker and creating better advertisements to promote their congregation

10 LEARNINGS AS A FATHER

10 LEARNINGS AS A FATHER

Today is my youngest son’s 11th birthday. As our family celebrates the gift he’s been to our family, I’m reminded of the 10 things I hope I do as a father. 1. Tell my 2 boys daily that I love them, am proud of them, and that they’re loved unconditionally by God. 2. Spend time

Avoiding Mission Drift

Avoiding Mission Drift

My dad and I had a favorite fishing hole where we could almost always catch our limit of fish. I remember a time when we took the boat out to this location and we immediately caught several fish. Action tapered off quickly though which hadn’t happened before. Then I realized that I had never thrown

Ten reasons why guests don’t return

Ten reasons why guests don’t return

I was brainstorming with some leaders recently about what they were hearing as to why visitors weren’t coming to their congregation, or why they weren’t bothering to return. Listed below is the “Top 10” of a rather lengthy list. 1. A website that’s outdated, boring and not user-friendly. 2. Signage, internal and external, that’s inadequate.

Is generosity one of your faith formation outcomes?

Is generosity one of your faith formation outcomes?

In the spring edition of the Lifelong Faith Journal, there’s an article by Linda Staats about the Generosity Project that explains how important the practice of generosity is to the daily expression of our faith. She suggests that the faith practice of generosity is best formed in households, with the support of the congregation and

Making BIG changes through small steps

Making BIG changes through small steps

At VFM, we often encourage people to take “shuffle steps towards transformation” – small, consistent steps toward desired outcomes.  This typically shows up when the people we coach set and achieve daily, weekly, and monthly goals.  The coaching approach to spiritual vitality becomes transformative when other paid and volunteer staff also begin setting goals (usually

What’s your plan for learning?

What’s your plan for learning?

I’m an avid book reader and am a sponge for new ideas.  I believe that leaders are learners and need ongoing dialogue with other leaders and as well as new insights from books and resources. I’m curious what you’ve been learning lately and what books, experiences and conversations you’ve had that stretched your thinking and

What’s your congregational identity?

I’ve been working with several congregations lately with creating tools for describing their congregation to guests and members. My last posting, “Do you have an elevator speech?” provided a summary of how I choose to describe my home congregation to friends and neighbors. Hopefully, some of you may have created an elevator speech to help

Do you have an elevator speech?

When a guest after worship or your next door neighbor states, “Tell me about your church,” what do you say? Are you caught off guard?  Does your response ramble on about things that don’t really matter? I encourage congregations I coach to create an “elevator speech” that concisely, concretely describes the essence of their congregation.

Moving forward, faster in meetings

“After all is said and done, a lot is said and little is done.”  This quote reminds me of my experience at many meetings I observe.  It makes me think of when I go to the gym and I see people who chat with others, walk around the equipment but never seem to get around

10 reasons why people disengage

10 reasons why people disengage

A pastor I spoke with today was struggling with how to deal with disengaged leaders.  I shared with him  a “Top 10” list I frequently share with leaders I coach. congregations and I thought I’d share the list with you too. 1.We assume that people know the “Why”. We spend too much time talking about

Harnessing people’s energy

Harnessing people’s energy

When coaching, I find that I do my best work with people seeking to move from “good to great.” I’m known as a maximizer, helping individuals who are already motivated continuously improve their performance and impact.   My job is not to motivate them but rather to harness their gifts and energies in ways that

13 questions leaders should be asking

13 questions leaders should be asking

Good questions lead to good conversations. If you want to improve your meetings, start asking better questions. Listed below are some of the questions I’ll be asking leaders in California this weekend: 1. What is our congregation known for in the community? What would we like it to be known for? 2. What are the

Top 10 ways to ensure guests won’t return

Top 10 ways to ensure guests won’t return

While in South Carolina this past weekend, a group of congregational leaders discussed ways to extend hospitality which led to creating this slightly irreverent “Top 10” list below. It serves as a reminder of how simple, intentional acts of hospitality can profoundly influence the way people feel welcomed and valued. Perhaps we simply need to

Stewardship as a Way of Life

If “stewardship is everything we say and do after we say yes to God,” how does that impact our interactions with others? Living as stewards of God’s grace and abundance permeates every choice we make regarding our time, treasures, talents and more.  My challenge is simply to be reminded of the opportunity I have each

What get’s inspected, get’s improved

Evaluating programs, practices, people and promotions should be an ongoing process.  Evaluating meetings, events and activities can be done in just a few minutes.  One of my favorite exercises is the “10 finger” technique where one has participants raise their hands and use their fingers to vote, asking questions such as “On a scale of

What’s stirring your imagination?

Yesterday, at a conference in Florida, two participants asked me what I’ve been reading lately that’s stirred my imagination and challenged by assumptions.  I share with them that I’ve been rethinking how the church needs to reach out to boomers more intentionally based on Keith Haemmelmann’s book, Growing Older, Thinking Younger.  The book reminded me to  focus

Asking better and best questions

One of the ways we exercise leadership is by asking powerful questions. Questions can focus conversations on what matters most. Questions can be framed in ways that lead to new possibilities and new results. Questions I frequently ask congregations include: 1. What’s your primary purpose? 2. What do you deem as important, and how does

Finding ways to move forward faster

In his book, Leading Change, John Kotter reminds leaders of the importance of celebrating short-term wins. Congregations seeking to move forward faster use multiple ways to communicate to its members the positive steps that are being taken to realize God’s preferred future. These positive steps need to be highlighted EVERY WEEK during worship announcements, sermon

Moving Beyond Organizational Inertia

New Year’s Day is a time of endings and beginnings –  a time to reflect on what’s transpired this past year, reflect on what’s working and what’s not working in our lives and ministry, and a time to try on new ways of doing and being.  So often I hear people and organizations adding more things to

Is it time to look in the mirror?

Is it time to look in the mirror?

I was recently reminded  that when things don’t pan out as we had hoped, the first step may be to look in the mirror, asking ourselves what we  might have done to contribute to the unintended result.  I wonder how often we hold people back when we “encourage” our leaders in ways that are not

Timeless leadership truths

Timeless leadership truths

In the book, The Truth about Leadership, Barry Posner and James Kouzes share 1o truths about leadership.  I’ve found these truths or principles to be particularly helpful for congregational ministry.  The ten truths are below as well as two of my own truths. Please share which leadership truths you embrace . Are there other truths

Using SALT to deepen connections

Using SALT to deepen connections

If you want to change your life, start asking different questions.  The questions we ask each other have the power to change our conversations, challenge our assumptions and reframe how we move forward.  Listed below are some questions I discussed with friends today at a conference in Arizona.  Take a few minutes and consider your responses to

Do you know your next step?

Do you know your next step?

Thriving congregations need clarity about four things: Their PURPOSE (mission statement), their DIRECTION (vision and values statements), their PATH (roadmap for living into God’s preferred future), and the INDIVIDUAL CONTRIBUTIONS  team members are willing to take. Congregations I  coach often create a “Soul Script” that lists their purpose, direction and pathways, resulting in a newfound

What’s Your Problem?

What’s Your Problem?

Well-defined problems lead to breakthrough solutions. They lead to new approaches for addressing thorny issues.   They lead to addressing the right issues for the right reasons. When we rush to conclusions without exploring our beliefs and assumptions, without listing the stakeholder’s involved and without taking into consideration causal factors, we often end up solving

Being Relevant as a Communicator

A recent study shows that wireless customers spend 450 minutes per month talking on their phone, a decline of 77 minutes from 527 in 2009. In place of calling, customers are using their devices more often for text messaging. The study finds that wireless customers sent/received an average of 39 text messages during an average

The Ripple Effect

What’s the longterm impact of your actions? What is the legacy you wish to leave for your loved ones and the congregation you serve?  At our certification schools, we talk a lot about the ripple effect of our actions and how we can direct our time and energies toward the things that matter most in

What’s in your toolbox?

In coaching situations, we often have leaders name the resources they have found most helpful in building faith and growing leaders. Building on those bright spots, we help leaders be more intentional about how they might use those same tools in the future. In addition, VFM seeks to add more tools to a leader’s toolbox

10 ways to focus on forming faith

10 ways to focus on forming faith

Nurturing vibrant faith involves focusing on what matters most. This involves questioning our  assumptions about how vibrant faith is formed. Listed below are 10 tips to help you decide where and how you might focus your energies to develop mature followers of Christ who are fishers of people.  Please offer a few of your own

Everyday wellsprings

Everyday wellsprings

I have the pleasure of being at Kanuga Conference Center for a fews days of renewal and dialogue with Lutheran and Episcopal chaplains.  It’s been a time of rest, laughter, good food and good conversation.  It serves as a reminder that we all need to find ways to weave into our daily routines times of

Leaders are Learners

Leaders are Learners

Over the weekend I was asked, “What have been the best books and resources I’ve read the past 90 days?”  When formulating a response, I realize that I’ve read a wealth of books the past three months that have profoundly shaped me.  I reread Faith Formation 2020 by John Roberto which always inspires me with new

Sticky Messages

  Wednesday morning Apple launched the new iPad. Following their announcement, Apple’s home page looked like the picture here. Please note that Apple deleted all unnecessary content that might distract people from focusing on the new iPad. I think congregations could benefit from eliminating the “noise” that prevents people from focusing on what matters most.

Checking In

A ritual I began at the last congregation I served included setting up ongoing monthly or quarterly check-ins with paid and volunteer team leaders. The purpose of the check-ins was to celebrate progress on goals, set new monthly or quarterly goals, and explore ways I could best support them in their efforts.  The check-ins frequently

What type of congregation are you?

Here’s a question for your ministry team as you gather around the water cooler. Vibrant Faith Ministries finds that congregations often fall into one or more of the following four types of congregations identified below (based on how closely connected they are to biblical Christianity): 1. The least connected is the country club congregation, a social unity that

Leadership Worth Replicating

Leadership Worth Replicating

In Christian Smith’s book, Soul Searching, he reminds us that “we get what we are,” serving as a reminder that young people model the faith lives and practices of our parents, grandparents and other elders. I’m reminded that the same thing happens when we have current leaders train a new generation of leaders. One congregation

Answering the “Why bother?” Question

Answering the “Why bother?” Question

  A pastor called me last week to find out how I could help their congregation grow. I asked him two basic questions, “What kind of growth are you looking for?” and “What does your congregation offer people that would compel them to want to participate in its mission and ministries?” This led to a

It’s Time to Quit Caring

It’s Time to Quit Caring

One of the roles of a coach is to help leaders determine what they need to focus on and what they need to quit doing. In these cases, we’re usually talking about activities to add or remove from our lives but it’s also important to consider what we need to let go of mentally. These

Navigating Change

Navigating Change

Navigating change begins with identifying a congregation’s most pressing issues. Time is then spent visualizing God’s preferred future which is summed up in a brief narrative. Then 30-day, 90-day and 180-day and 360-day goals are created that will lead to the fulfillment of the vision. The list of goals include who’s responsible for each action

FRESH BREWED FAITH & LEADERSHIP

FRESH BREWED FAITH & LEADERSHIP

I like nothing better than starting out my day with a cup of French Roast coffee. I savor the sound and smell of brewing coffee and that first cup seems to launch me into my day with a sense of hope and possibility. Many congregational meetings and events I’ve attended recently seem to lack energy,

From Tattoos to DNA

From Tattoos to DNA

My oldest son asked me yesterday if I had ever considered getting a tattoo. I told him, “No, I don’t subject myself to pain if I can avoid it.” It’s the first time I’ve talked about tattoos with my family but it’s a common topic of conversation at Vibrant Faith Ministries. We talk about how

Filling Slots VS. Honoring Vocations

There was a time in my life when I was responsible for “recruiting” a sufficient number of teachers in order for the Sunday School program to run smoothly. As time went on, however, I began to realize the importance of “calling” the right people into teaching ministry as a way of helping them discover, develop

Caring Enough to Confront

One of the traits of an effective leader is being willing to speak one’s truth in a grace-filled manner. None of us typically enjoy having these crucial conversations with one another yet we all suffer when they don’t occur. When we fail to address problems or challenges when they’re small, we allow them to become

Leading From The Second Chair

Leading From The Second Chair

One of the challenges I frequently hear from congregational leaders is, “How can I provide leadership when I’m not the one officially in charge?” Frustrated and immobilized, “second chair” leaders often discount their ability to influence other people’s mindsets and behaviors. Effective second chair leaders recognize that they can make a difference. They acknowledge that

TEAMING IN TURBULENT TIMES

TEAMING IN TURBULENT TIMES

One of my loves is rafting and part of what I like about it is that everyone needs to work as a team, everyone plays an important role and everyone is in tune with what their team mates are doing. If someone isn’t doing their job, others speak up. After you’ve shot a series of

When balls get dropped

When balls get dropped

For projects to move forward, every team member needs to do their part at the appropriate time. Unfortunately, balls often get dropped by one or more team members which delays the entire project. How do we ensure that this doesn’t become a common occurrence? I find that reviewing commitments made and their deadlines at the

Members VS Disciples

Members VS Disciples

  When interviewing congregations about their hopes and dreams, I often hear about their desires to increase membership and increase giving. What I don’t hear as much about is their desire to help people grow spiritually and to help people live into their vocation. A question I often ask leaders is, “Assuming that we get

What’s Your Main Message?

As I’m preparing to lead a webinar on “How to Communicate Your Vision” this week, I’m reminded of how important it is to make our primary message meaningful and memorable. How do we make it stand out among all the messages we hear every week so people aren’t hunting for the key message like we

Fear . . .moving beyond it

Fear . . .moving beyond it

The longer I coach congregations the more I realize how much fear plays a role in congregational dysfunction. I see pastors unwilling to confront parishioners regarding their inappropriate behavior. I see congregational leaders fail to evaluate programs and ministries out of fear of what they might find out. I see youth workers say “yes” to

Turning Ideas Into Action

Turning Ideas Into Action

This week I’ve been attending an ELCA Lifelong Learning Partners event and I’ve taken several pages of notes on my iPad filled with great insights and ideas from the presentations and network gatherings.  In earlier years, I realized that I had no organized way to transfer these ideas into tangible programs, practices and methodologies and

Keeping Score

As many of us prepare to watch the Super Bowl this Sunday, I’m reminded of how easy it is in football to know who’s winning and what the score is. Sometimes I wish it was just as easy for us as congregational leaders to measure our ministry effectiveness. One way of getting at what matters

Finding a new angle of vision

Finding a new angle of vision

Looking at ministry with a new angle of vision requires letting go of old assumptions that no longer serve us, and finding new ways to frame the topics of our conversations.  So how do we begin asking questions that get at the heart of the issue? How do we make God the subject of our