Should your team have “goals” or “problems to fix”?

It doesn’t matter really. They are both concepts of the future. They’re both things to work towards. But some people need to hear it one way, and other people need to hear it the other way.

Goal: Encourage 100 people to invite their friends along to the Life evangelistic course.
Problem: Thousands of people are going to hell, only the gospel of Jesus can save them, and we’ve got 100 people at church.

Goal: Make Sunday meetings God-glorifying, challenging and encouraging.
Problem: We’ve only got one opportunity each week when we gather God’s people together… what should we do?

If you give your team goals, they’ll have a clearer idea what you want. If you give them problems, you might get better ideas.

Reblog: Intentions, no matter how good and determined, are not enough

Do you notice how God the Father responds to the Son’s prayer in the garden of Gethsemane? Jesus makes clear that he intends to drink the cup of God’s wrath. He agrees to do it. The decision is made in his mind. Its a huge moment in salvation history as the Father and the Son have a different “will” – while still having the same “will”. It is not inappropriate to say that the entire plan of the universe stood on a knife edge in that garden on that night. But Jesus decided he would do it.

Did you notice God’s response?

As important as Jesus’ intention was, it wasn’t enough. Jesus’ decision to bare the Father’s wrath was not enough to atone for sin. Jesus’ intention to suffer in my place was not enough to free me from punishment. Good intentions and hard decisions are really important, but they’re not enough. They don’t actually do anything. They’re just the first step of doing anything really important.

I wonder whether we live in a world that tends to consider intentions as more important than actually following through on them?
If you’re a leader, do you let people make decisions that they’re not going to follow-through on? Do you value their good intentions over their actions?

If you’re part of a team or a volunteer, do you make decisions and think that’s the hard part done? Do you think your good intentions should be appreciated, regardless of whether you followed-through on them or not?

Reblog: Who do they love?

Ministry is a hard game. We’re building relationships with people, as we help them build a relationship with Jesus. Its a big volunteer game too; we invite them to devote themselves to projects and events…
But there’s a wonderful question I was taught during my apprenticeship; Always ask yourself the question; Who do they love? You or Jesus?
As we do ministry, we become close to people, we become friends and team mates. And so when we ask them to help us, they can find it very easy to say “yes” to us – because of the relationship we have with them. And yet, they may have no desire to do those same things for Jesus. They just do it because we’ve asked them to.
Are your keen people doing what they’re doing because they love Jesus, or because they love you?

Reblog: Submissively encouraging decisiveness

(or “managing up”) is a really important skill. We’re all in submissive relationships; whether being pulled over by a cop, a wife with a husband, an employee with an employer, a volunteer and a leader.

One of the hardest aspects of needing to submit to another person is their indecisiveness. You’re waiting on their go-ahead, or their decision, or their permission. Added to this is the moral minefield for Christians who don’t want to grumble or assume inappropriate authority. So here’s some keys.

  1. Make it clear that you want/need a decision from them. Most of the time, managers assume that their directs don’t need direction. Go and tell them what things you think are their responsibility. You might find that they are happy for you to make those calls. And that’s the decisiveness you need first… clarity on who’s making what calls.
  2. If your leader does need to make the decision, remind them that you’re happy to do things their way. This is important because if it is their decision, then it’s their responsibility – not yours.
  3. Present them with options and solutions, but don’t hesitate to tell them which one you think is best. Be careful not to personalise your favourite. Remember step 2… it’s their decision, and you’re simply helping them to make it.
  4. If there’s still indecisiveness politely tell them what you think the result will be if you don’t get a decision. e.g. “I’m happy for you to leave this on the back burner, but I just thought I’d let you know that deadline x is approaching. If you still wanted it, I’ll need X”
  5. Don’t sweat it, if they’ve said it’s up to them.

Here’s some examples:

“Boss, how about we do A, B, C?”
“Sounds good”
“Would you like me to start that, or do you want to get someone else to take it on?”
“Give me a few days to decide”
(weeks later)
“Boss, what did you end up doing with that plan to do A, B, C?”
“Yeah, I thought it was a good idea.”
“You said you were going to assign someone to start it, if you haven’t done that, I was thinking maybe Larry would be a good choice.”
“Yeah, he would”
“Well, just so you know, the deadline is in X weeks, so if Larry doesn’t start this week, it won’t happen. Are you still sure you like the plan enough to get Larry to drop E, F, G to do it?”

Polite, helpful, unemotional, and pushing for decisions.

Different types of time with your team

We need different types of time with people. Your spouse is a good example.

It’s good to set aside time with your spouse each week to talk about, plan and pray for the various ministries you’re both doing. It’s also good to set aside other times where you can be together but not talk about those things.

Most small groups do something similar; prayer time, bible time, hanging-out time.

Have you thought about how this translates to your ministry team? Do you only spend “planning time” and “doing time” together? Are there other types of time that you should plan to spend together.

Define what TYPE of conversation you’re having

What type of conversation are we having? Because if you think we’re having a “Let’s come to an agreement before we move on anything” conversation, and I think we’re having a “tell me your ideas, perspectives, issues with my plans and I’ll decide” conversation, then chances are both of us are going to miscommunicate a great deal and have to come back and talk this all out all over again.

So stop talking, and make clear the TYPE of conversation you’re having. It’ll save hours of painful untangling conversations in the future.

And don’t we all want to avoid those?

Externally solid, internally flexible

Great teams think highly of each other, trust each other, and are reluctant to jump on the bagging-out band-wagon when its aimed at their team mates. For example, even though I wasn’t the most liked guy on my rugby team (’cause I didn’t drink, do crack and sleep around), if I was ever threatened my team mates would come to my defence in a second (usually more overaggressive than required).

But, great teams don’t just put on a united front to the world. They also enter into real and deep conflict on the inside. Once the doors are closed and its just you and me, great teams take each other to task, they challenge, dispute, argue and fight for what they think is best.

And the key is keeping the right attitude in the right context.

If you start arguing with your rugby captain while he’s running with the ball towards the opposition, you’re an idiot. You put your issue aside and you be there for him no matter what. When you’re back in the locker room, and the other teams out of earshot, that’s when you have it out. And after you’ve had it out, you leave it there, in the locker room. You don’t bring it out again.

Then, if I know that you’re not going to attack me in public, well, then I’m all the more likely to trust you when you come to me with an issue in private.

My old IT boss use to say it like this… “X is X. If your partner tells the client X, it doesn’t matter whether you agree with X or not. X is X. You run with it, and change it later. Don’t undermine each other in front of the client. X is X.”


Why let the leaders lead?

Romans 12 says, “in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us […] if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently”

It seems that Jesus gives certain people the ability to “lead”; and encourages them to use that gift… diligently. The word there is “do quickly, do one’s best, do eagerly”.

What’s the principle there?

Jesus encourages the church to use spiritually-gifted people… so that tasks get done well; at their best.

Jesus seems to care about quality because he gives being gifted in doing jobs well.

How to run a “Ministry review” discussion

So, you’ve planned, organised, delegated, ran and even cleaned up that big ministry event/thing. How do you conduct a review with the team?

1. Acknowledge the fears in the room; some people know they didn’t pull their weight. Some people know their thing didn’t really work. Some people are afraid they just about to get blamed. Acknowledge those fears, speak about them.

2. Go back and remind people of the purpose of the event. What was the big thing you were hoping it would achieve? Start by critiquing that. Was it a good goal? Would you keep it as the goal if you had the chance again? Did the purpose/goal slip from view in the planning/execution?

3. Avoid anecdotal evidence. As much as possible, try to use hard data. Numbers, ratios of new/existing, number of comments, time it started/ended.

4. Talk improvements, not mistakes. There’s a fine line there, but it’s a heart issue.

part of being “above-reproach” means “escalate it”

If something happens to you that might be seen in a bad light, escalate it.

If someone raises a concern with you, especially with your behaviour, escalate it.

If you find out someone has some issue with you, escalate it.

If you’re about to do something risky, escalate it.

Why? Because if things go bad, they can go really bad if no-one else knows. It will look really bad if someone goes to your boss and says “He did this” and your boss says, “I had no idea!?!”

A much better scenario is your boss says, “Yes, I know all about it. He and I have spoken, and there’s more going on than you know.”