Repost: Speak-up when you agree

This is huge. It’s so important.

If you don’t speak up when you agree, then you’re opening the door for a single dissenter to appear like the majority.

Whether it’s in a formal meeting, or just a “friendly” discussion over lunch with a group of people; affirm and agree when you like what’s being said. Let the others know that you agree. Explain why you personally agree.

When you do this, it helps keep the tone of the conversation/meeting positive. It keeps the cards on the table so to speak. When you don’t speak-up, it creates a tone of secrecy and keeping cards close to your chest. It allows people to (unhelpfully) think the worst, and assume that you do not agree.

So if you do agree, agree out loud.

The people in the meeting define the purpose, not just the person calling the meeting

This may seem the wrong way around, and to some extent, it shouldn’t be this way. However, every time someone new joins a meeting, the purpose of the meeting changes slightly to accommodate their “needs”; whether felt needs or real needs.

Why? Because the people in the meeting are expecting to get something out of the meeting. Or they are expecting to contribute something to the meeting.

So, even though YOU might have a reason for calling your meeting, the people you call will bring their own expectations.

The point is, if having that person in the room is going to change the purpose of the meeting dramatically, better not to invite them in the first place. In the end, it’s your meeting.

The only things you should advertise at church are…

Churches seems to have such a quandary about saying no to advertising things out the front. Its hard when someone runs up to you and says they need, really really need to you advertise their thing today!!! When the reality is that, if you said yes to everyone, you’d have no time for bible, singing or sermon. There’s just so much that goes on that legitimate church stuff, let alone the other things. I’ve had one guy come up to me 5 mins before a meeting and insist they get up and invite people to join their soccer team!

So, rather than just avoiding those people so they can’t ask you, have a clear basis for why you advertise things… here’s ours (courtesy of our brilliant Magnification Pastor – that means he cares more about making meetings good environments for hearing and responding to God  – Pete Witt).

Only things that tick all three boxes:

  1. They affect a huge number of people (at least over half)
  2. They are significantly urgent
  3. They are closely aligned to your visions and values as a church.

If it hits all three, go for it. It’s worth advertising.

So many ways to measure success…

We recently ran a carols night that loads of people said, “went really well”! But how should Christians and churches work out whether something “went well”?
The error is to assume that there’s only one measure of success… As if only one measurement matters, and no other aspects are valuable.
Here’s a few different lenses to consider if something is “successful”
– did people come?
– did people stay?
– did people understand?
– did people respond in one of the suggested ways?
– did we present the truth (about Jesus/church/motivations)
– did Christians serve Jesus through it? (Or was it only the staff?)
– did Christians invite their friends?
– did Christians pray about it?
– we’re the Christians godly while serving?
– did we create a helpful atmosphere?
– did we do things well for the type of people who were there?
– did we trust God with all our efforts?
– did we put in sufficient effort?
– did we do it better than last time?
– did people grow relationships with each other more?
– did people come back to other things (after 1mnth, 1yr, 10yrs)?
– did people enter heaven through it?

Not all of these are of equal value but they are all things to celebrate if we do do, and things to consider carefully if we don’t do.

The first skill of speaking out the front is…

…learning how to NOT speak, and being comfortable with the silence.
Whether you’re training MCs, band leaders, prayers or preachers, if they’re not able to cope with not-speaking, they’re going to try and fill all the gaps. And when you’re trying to fill gaps, you’re not thinking about what you’re saying, you’re just thinking, “ahh, I need to fill this gap!!” And that’s when you do one of two things; either you speak for too long about nothing things and bore people (imagine the band leader who starts their song intro, but doesn’t quite stop). Or you say something silly, wrong, hurtful or heretical.
The solution is silence.
Tell your band leaders, “This week, show me that you can NOT speak, and then we’ll move onto speaking next week.”

The goal of public prayer is…

Encouragement? People awestruck at our pious praying styles? No!
The goal of public prayer is simply that people would pray along with us.

Public prayer is a weird thing. I think we forget that if we’ve seen it done for a long time. But it’s really really weird. One person stands out the front and talks with their eyes shut, to someone who’s not in the room. Meanwhile, everyone else shuts their eyes and just sits there. Until some magic words at the end get said, and then everyone chants an ancient Greek word, “amen”.

Now I think it’s a great thing to do, but lets be clear on the goal… The goal is that all those people with their eyes shut would in fact be talking to God the very same words that the lead pray-er is praying. So, pray in such a way that makes it amazingly easy for people to pray along!!!

  • Pray slowly – with gaps between phrases and sentences.
  • Pray SHORT sentences. I’ll say it again. Pray short sentences.
  • Pray clearly.
  • Pray meaningfully.
  • Pray deeply – invoke real theological nous to be simple and clear. It’s easy to get away with bad theology by using lots of words.

Regular 1:1s reduce trivial interruptions

If you have “direct reports” (people who consider you their boss – even in a volunteer sense) then it’s worth scheduling in weekly 1:1 meetings. The point of these meetings is firstly just to give your directs some personal time with you. Just a few minutes where they can talk with you as a human, not just as a boss/leader.
Because, if you think about it,many of the interruptions you get from your directs throughout the week… Most of them are trivial-ish. They’re not urgent.
The guys came up with an interesting explain action for this… They wonder if people interrupt their leaders simply because they want that personal time with them.
You might think you’re a really warm and personal leader… But if you’re getting little questions about lots of little things throughout the day, maybe your directs just want to spend some time with you?

Sit in the best seat you can

Notice that guys in the real world never sit directly across from each other, they sit side by side or at 90deg, looking at something else. It’s normally too intimate for guys to face each other – it’s more common for girls though. They seem more skilled in handling the face to face discussion.
But if your reading the bible or working on a project, it’s almost always best to try and sit at 90deg and look at it together.
Shoulder to shoulder can mean you never look at each other. And it can get awkward with make/female catch-ups when you are shoulder to shoulder and turn to face each other.
So, when you arrange to meet with someone, set out the chairs. If there’s only 2 of you, put your self at the head of the table, so they have to sit 90deg.
If its a round table, add/remove a chair so there’s only 3 available, and when they sit down, move yourself around from 120deg to 90deg.
If your meeting with 2 others at the same time, don’t stack one side of the table, keep it even. Sit around the end of a long table rather than in the middle.

The type of room you meet in matters!!

Our youth group used to meet in a school basketball court. It was great for games and activities, and the leaders thought the small group times worked pretty well. Until they moved to a purpose built venue with lounges and cafe tables and meeting rooms. All of a sudden the youth group kids started “discussing” and relating and talking about the passages and the study questions like never before.
They didn’t improve the studies or the questions or the leaders, just the “space” they met in.
The space you meet in has a huge, repeat HUGE, influence on how humans behave in that space.
People find it easy to discuss deep thoughts in rooms that are designed for people to sit around tables (with paper and pens out).
But you can’t have the same type of meetings in a cafe… The tables and the atmosphere is “lower”. It’s hard to have out pens and paper, it’s hard to silently consider and focus. The space just isn’t designed for that.
Don’t have planning meetings in cafes, book an office or a library meeting room. Don’t have casual catch-ups in meeting rooms, go to a cafe or a park or whatever.
The space humans meet in makes a huge difference to humans.

Meet with volunteers after x weeks, not after x is done.

If you plan to meet with someone “as soon as you’ve finished the next step”, there’s little chance you’ll meet.

Whereas, if you plan to meet with someone “in 3 weeks”, you’ll meet, and there’s more chance they’ll have finished the next step.

Arranging to meet with a volunteer regardless of deliverables is an important part of communicating to them that they are more important than the project.

Don’t fear the accusation of being “token”

Just because it’s short or brief DOESN’T mean its “token”. Just because a conversation goes for 5mins, doesn’t mean it’s “token”.

Token describes an assumed attitude. You might be making it “token” by the fact you don’t really care. It’s your attitude that’s token – and that shows in your action.

But if you do think something is valuable, worthwhile, important, etc. it doesn’t matter how much time you give to it; either brief or long.

Something can be important and at the same time, brief. And all without being “token”.

Let the meeting preach the gospel

Sometimes sermons don’t hit the spot, they don’t resonate, they don’t touch a nerve, they don’t point to our sin and Jesus’ grace, etc…

So make sure the gospel is in your meetings.

Use the gospel to explain why you meet. Use the gospel to explain why you pray. Use the gospel to shape your songs, and the welcome, and the farewell, and the interviews. Just a sentence here and a mention there. Wrap Jesus into and through everything.

And one step further; shape the whole meeting on the gospel. Start with the good God who we’ve rebelled against, hear his word — that he initiated for our sake — respond to his word in prayer and songs. Encourage each other to live in line with the gracious calling we’ve received.

And not just Sunday meetings; youth group, Growth Groups, special events, 121s, etc…