Reblog: You can’t be a leader unless you…

make decisions.
In the end, that’s the basic things leaders need to do… They might do it with their team, or without their team – but that’s one of the decisions they make. Heck, they might even decide to ask for a vote.
Leaders need to make decisions because, in the end, they are responsible for what got decided.
Some leaders are really people orientated, and they are great at relationships, and building teams. Others are very task orientated and take a humans-as-resources approach. But the mistake is to think that the former don’t make decisions, while the later do.
If you’re a leader who’s good at building relationships easily and “getting people on board”, you’re still the decision maker. But chances are you’re guiding people to want the same thing you’ve already decided. That’s not bad, but there’s a danger to be easily avoided; they might “want” what you want, but they know it’s not their decision – and they don’t think you’ve made a decision (because you keep talking about it) – so nothing actually happens.
So don’t just go and make a heap of decisions… rather, ask the question, “Have I communicated my decision clearly?”

Reblog: Modern Day Gifts: The Mood Reader

Don’t you love the person who can just read the mood in a room? Whether its a small group, a big church meeting, a special event, or just in a social setting.
This is what a great MC will do… they’ll speak into the feel of the room. A sermon might have left a solemn mood, or a song might have ended on a high. A (spiritually) gifted MC will see/feel that… they won’t ruin it, they won’t make a clunky change of gears. Their tone of voice, their words, their mannerisms will match.
Going one step further, a gifted MC with added skills will pick that mood, and then push it one way or another, to help people in the room move on.

Reblog: Empty bucket theology

Some people have complete ideas in their heads, some people have fuzzy ideas in their heads, and some people have “empty buckets” when it comes to certain ideas.
All of these people have things they need to change… “Complete theological concepts” will always have things that need to be uncovered, undermined and re-understood. “Fuzzy theological concepts” need to be sharpened, and strengthened, and built.
But what do you do with “empty bucket theological concepts”?
The first thing is to pick it when you see it. The type of conversation you have with an empty-bucket is very different to a fuzzy or complete.
But when you do see it, it’s gives you an opportunity for great joy in simply filling a bucket with God’s thoughts. There’s nothing to take out, change, alter; just fill.
The best possible outcome is watching them fill their own empty bucket as they read God’s word. So help them do that.

Debunking the small-church-is-better myths (part 2)

I’m in no way against small church! Every expression of God’s people is valuable and beautiful. In fact, that’s why I’m writing these posts trying to debunk the idea that small church is not just different, but better.

  • Myth: “Only certain people can “do” big church – like extroverts. Introverts need small churches”.
    Really? There’s a few things to question about this idea…
    The normal definition of an Introvert is someone who likes lots of time with a very few number of people (if any at all). That’s not a small church… in fact that’s not even a bible study group!
    Introverts won’t like a church of 40-80 people either!! Sure, they won’t like a church of 1000, but using the introvert “card” to be with a group of 60 people doesn’t actually fly.
    I would also argue that big churches can (not always) love introverts better than small churches. When you walk in the door of a small church, even up to 80 people, everyone sees you. You’re you still have to make small talk, you still have to fumble through chit-chat. You can’t go an sit off to the side away from people, because everyone notices you. It’s hell. But in a church of 200-1000, it’s large enough that you can “go-unnoticed” in the crowd – if you want to. You can join a small group of people mid-week to encourage each other.One more point… I would assume that extroverts are the best people to put in… small churches! They are really good at bouncing up to new people, having them over for lunch (in their own house – introverts hate that!). A small church full of introverts will always struggle to invite new people in and grow.
    And as a final passing shot… should we really let a 20th century concept of “introvert/extrovert” have so great an impact on how we “do” church?!?! Methinks Satan is making a lot of ground through the selfish introspection such concepts promote.
  • Myth: “Small churches grow faster” (here)
  • Myth: “Small churches see more conversion growth” (here)

Reblog: Delegate, but always check they know the…

… very next step to take.

They might have to call someone they’ve never spoken to before. They’re happy to do it. They’re keen to make a cold-turkey phone call. They know what they need to say, and how to have the conversation.

But they don’t know where to get the number from.

This is when you find out if they’re a self-starter or not. See a normal person will sit on his/her hands, not sure what to do, not sure how to get the number or who to call or whether they’re even meant to know it. They get something like writers-block; helpers-block. Or worse, they will feel like a failure… and they might even feel bitter towards you for setting them up with an impossible task.

A self-starter will go outside-the-box and get the number. They’ll work out a solution and if that doesn’t work, they’ll come up with another one. Heck, they’ll even call 10 people and end up getting the persons’ address and having the conversation on the front porch.

You know what happens then? Leaders stop delegating to the normal person and they only delegate to the self-starter.

Shame… when all the leader had to do was ask, “Ok, what’s the very first thing you’re going to have to do?”

Scripture, stories and stats

Different people are tuned into different frequencies. Some people just want to principles from scripture, the verses to back it up, and the biblical implications. Anything else is superfluous fluff.

Some people just resonate with stories. The personal journey, the struggle, the hope, the victory, the passion and people. That’s what’s real to them; it’s what matters. They’re less likely to be swayed by biblical arguments and numbers on a chart.

Some people just want the numbers. They understand that scripture and stories are all real and (somewhat) important, but if it’s not going to make a difference, or there’s no plan or strategy, it’s just pie-in-the-sky.

If you want to communicate to a lot of people, these are three good things to keep in mind. Whether it’s a sermon, an ad, or a project overview; these three people will probably be in the room.

The difference between a poisonous person and a venomous person

You know the difference between poison and venom… if you bite it and you die – it’s poison, if it bites you and you die – it’s venomous. The same can be true of certain people.

Some people can be poisonous; you make the foolish decision to interact with them, to play along with their foolishness. The adulterous woman from Proverbs 5 is poison. It’s a death trap. “For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey,  and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death (v3-5)“. This is what some people are like. They draw others into their twisted view of the world. People die by their own decision to drink it all in.

Other people can be venomous. They are always on the attack. Always on the offensive. Always ready for a fight. They speak lies and claim evils have been done. They leave destruction in their wake. And you can get taken down if you happen to be in their line of sight. These are the advisors to Darius in Daniel 6, “Then they said to the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, Your Majesty, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day.”

You can avoid neither, but it helps to know which one you’re dealing with.

Responding to Passive Aggressive comments

A good way (tho not the only way) to respond to PA comments is to call their bluff. If they’re hinting that you’ve left something undone, ask them straight; “Is there something you wanted me to do?”. If they’re hinting that they’ve been left out, clarify; “You don’t feel left out do you?”. If they insinuating that you’re being a meanie to them, ask them; “Are you ok with this? Is there a problem?”.

That leaves only two paths forward. Either they’ll tell you straight, or they wont.

Unless they’re prepared to tell you straight, you can’t make it your problem. It’s their problem. All you can do is to keep trying to help them share their problem properly, not passively.


How to identify passive agressive comments

Passive Agressive (PA) comments infer that there is a problem (or that you have a problem) without actually saying that there’s a problem. For example; “My last church never did it this way“, “That might make some people feel left out”, “I suppose that will just have to do”. Depending on the inflection and the tone, they could be perfectly reasonable observations. But you know when they’re not just observations.

I’ve always wanted to make a t-shirt that says “Well at least I’m not passive aggressive”. I think that’s hilarious!

It’s really worth training yourself to recognise these type of comments from others and from yourself. A colleague and I used to play a game “Can you say that in a more passive agressive way?” as a fun way of training oourselves to recognise it.
Recognising it is the first step to resolving it. Otherwise you just walk away from the conversation feeling bad, but not really knowing why.

Does your opinion matter?

20130607-234229.jpgSome people are far too liberal with their own opinions – they’ll throw it in anywhere they can, whether they know anything about the situation or not. They’re usually the type of people who end up writing blogs.

Other people don’t give their own opinions enough credit. They really do have good ideas, good perspectives, good insights that they should share.

I think should is the right word there. Not can, or may, but should.

If your opinion really matters, if its not just some attempt to blow your own trumpet, if its actually springing from a desire to help and love and grow people… then share it! Let others in on it because it matters.

Modern-day-gifts “The Energizer”

Put some people in front of an audience, and they have to try so hard to affect the mood in the room. Shouting and jumping around will likely only cause embarrassment, rather than excitement.

Put other people in front of an audience, and all they have to do is half-a-smile… and bam! There’s something electric in the room. Everyone’s alert and excited. They’ve got some ability to inject energy into the room.

Thank you God for those people.