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?


Leading, delegating, starting, serving… they all require a little bit of dreaming. Sometimes, they require a lot of dreaming.

What would you LOVE to see happen… don’t worry about “how” it will happen just yet… just imagine.

What would you love to see them do when you give them this responsibility? What are they dreaming it will look like? Is their dream big enough? Or is it bigger than your dream?

If you’re encouraging people to join with you in serving Jesus, do they have a big enough dream about what could be?

How should you instill in people a godly ambition to take on more responsibility?

It’s helpful when people “step-up” and take on more responsibility. It allows leaders to delegate more and start new things and keep things going. But how should we motivate people to step-up? Rewards? Notoriety? Offer to meet up with them 1:1? Offer them more time with “the staff”? (that might back-fire)

I reckon its the idea of stewardship. Paul says “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” He says this in the context of avoiding sexual immorality, but the principle he goes back to is much bigger than that. It’s the idea that Jesus owns you; your body, your energy, your time. You don’t have to choose what to do with your day. You have to choose what to do with Jesus’ day. Jesus entrusts 24hrs of time to you every day… 168hrs every week. 

What are you going to do with Jesus’ time? What are you going to do with the body Jesus has loaned to you?

Lets do something great!

Why would you give a volunteer access to church data?

There’s a few things to think about before you give people access to contact details and other data.

  1. You’re not giving them access, you’re appointing them with responsibility.
    There are certain things people should do, and not do with private data. Access to data is not a right or a gift to use as they see fit. It’s a weighty responsibility they have to choose to take on. (We have volunteers sign a database privacy policy).
  2. If you’re appointing someone to a position of significant authority, it’s appropriate they have access to data.
    They might not need access to the database to fulfil their responsibilities, but the very fact they already have such responsibility means that access is appropriate. For example, our senior pastor rarely uses the database to do his job, but he has access.
  3. If someone’s smaller roll would be much, much easier with access to data, its loving to let them have it.
    There’s no point asking someone to organise a person from every growth group to be a contact person for a particular event, and then telling them they’ve got to find all those people the selves, or bounce that administrative hassle back to the growth group over seers. Administrators are great people to give access to the database.

Limiting your ministry to “with my spouse” only

On one hand, married couples have a great ability to focus and influence and care and endorse. I love married couples who do team ministry. It’s great. There are certain seasons of life where this can happen more and others where it happens less.

But, it’s not always “best”. And it shouldn’t be a limiting factor in working out what you and your spouse are going to formally do with church. Why? It turns something that’s meant to be other-person-centred into something that is only thought about “on my terms”. Be very wary if you hear yourself say something like, “that’s not something we could consider because we can’t do it together.” That’s bad. In fact, I don’t even think it should be in the top 5 questions you ask to consider a particular ministry responsibility.

The married couples I’ve seen do ministry for the long term are those that encourage each other in their individual giftedness, rather than limit their serving to their overlapping giftedness. So, think about how you can encourage your spouse to serve Jesus in ways that you never could. Jesus made them for that… and Jesus gave your spouse a great helper to help them… you.

Amaze people with “no reason”

If you’re in Christian leadership, its your job, your responsibility, to keep asking and encouraging people to give their time and effort to ministry. So much so, that it can feel like every interaction and phone call is a request.

On one hand, you have to be ok with that. If you don’t call people to step up to do the good works God has prepared them to do, there’s a good chance they won’t. Thank God for your role of getting people on the ministry field.

On the other hand, it gives you a great opportunity to surprise people with the opposite. Just call to say hi. Chat. When they ask what you’ve called them about (as they probably will) just say, “No reason. I realised that almost every time we’ve chatted has been about something that needs doing, so I just thought I’d call and say hi. That ok?”

Energy levels do not equate to amount of work done

Often when we talk about how much energy we have, we have the idea in our head that a certain amount of energy means we should be able to achieve a certain amount of output. That is, we assume human energy levels are like petrol levels in a car… if I have a full “energy” tank, I should be able to go 8 hours doing “stuff”.

But that’s not how energy levels usually work.

Usually, a person’s energy levels are a reflection on their expectations on their upcoming work. If they are excited about what they are going to do, they have a certain amount of energy for it. If they are scared or overwhealmed by the amount of work they have to do, their energy levels seem to drop.

It might seem a bit simplistic, but the best way to ensure you have the energy you need is to, a) lower your self-expectations and just go for small parts of big projects (just send 1 email, just make 1 call, just read 4 pages) and b) raise your vision and our purposes; help yourself see that the end goal or outcome is worthy and exciting and… energising.

That’s why gospel work (i.e. “good work”) is great. My outcome expectations are in the hands of God, and the purpose driving me is eternal and glorious.

Reblog: Do you have enough for people to do?

Imagine if everyone in your congregation(s) [who isn’t already giving a few hours to ministry at your church] all came to you next week and said they each wanted to give 2hrs – per week.

Would you have enough for them to do?

What could you stop doing straight away now you had their help?

What would you have to stop doing in order to get them mobilized?

What would be your top 3 areas to feed them into?

What if they are willing and they just don’t offer because they don’t know what you’d get them to do?

Reflections from building the HBC Hub

About 12 months ago I took an architect and a couple of our Committee of Elders to a 1970s warehouse and pitched the idea that by the grace of God we could use it as a home base for our church activities. They showed amazing trust in my intuition, they helped work out how to communicate it well to our church, and they pitched-in heaps. God showed amazing grace in getting it all finished too. It was a wild ride that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. But here’s some reflections a year out…

(If you don’t know about our HBC Hub, it’s for all our non-Sunday activities… we don’t do church there at all. It’s just for meetings, lunches, Women’s Bible Study, night time seminars, evangelistic series, welcome nights, anything… just not “sunday church”)

  • There are ONLY 3 types of spaces you need in a church hub – these were the things I was looking for in the 80 or so places I looked at;
    • car parking spaces,
    • informal spaces (meeting rooms, conf rooms, cafe, entry, hot-swap desks, etc),
    • utility spaces (kitchen, toilets, storage, photocopier, stationery, etc).
    • (I’m really glad we didn’t use space for private offices. It can make it hard to have some conversations, but that’s what the meeting rooms are for. The space is too valuable.)
  • Commercial building requirements are generally twice as ridiculous as residential ones.
  • Labour is generally 4 times the cost of materials – so pray for helpers.
    • Some helpers are great at one type of job, some are great at doing many. Get people doing their type of thing.
    • People generally need to be given permission to start. If you find a good starter, he’s a God-send for helping others.
    • It’s worth getting professionals to do jobs that everyone will look at in years to come… like setting the plaster on the gyprock.
  • I’m glad we put the money into glass doors and extra glass panels in walls; it lets in heaps of light and it means there are no “unseen” meetings. Everything’s above board.
  • Getting the right materials and tools on site at the right time took 80% of my time.
  • While in the midst of it, I was very emotional. I was constantly on edge about how people would judge it, and if they thought it was a stupid idea. Even when they said they liked it, and they couldn’t wait, I still heard them as if they were complaining it was taking too long. Every question people asked sounded like an attack – but it wasn’t!! My ability to hear them positively went out the window. Towards the end of the project I took a week off before I became a complete wreck. That taught me a lot about my potential to mis-hear people’s intentions.
  • Moving the staff coffee machine was the best way to get the staff to leave the old office.
  • Some people clean well. Other people clean perfectly. Don’t get the former to do the last sweep, and don’t get the latter to come everyday.
  • I wish I’d made the conference room a bit more square shaped. It’s 12m x 5m. It works. And I don’t think we really could have changed the layout, but it’s the only part I’d like to alter.
  • The first thing we bought for the hub was a $300 leather sofa suite… 1 week before I even went to the Elders for approval. Having that sofa in the building the whole time meant a lot to me. I feel like I should leave it there when we move out.
  • When you ask for donations, be clear that you will only take the things that you want. If people want you to take it on principle that it’s a donation, don’t. It’s amazing how many broken items were “offered”. Ask for people to donate new things, not old things.
  • Have a list of things that you want to get, but you don’t have the money for… some people will only want to pay for those type of things. May as well let them.
  • Have a celebration at the end. Rejoice in all the ways people have helped… time, skills, even the money that was donated and the praying that was done for it behind the scenes. We got people up and interviewed them simply on the basis that they gave money. It felt a bit weird but they sacrifice was just like all the others, so why not thank God for them?!

1 Minute Manager

The whole point of this book really has one point; Can you describe the job you want someone to do in one minute?

You can’t just name the job (e.g. “Welcoming leader”). You have to so explain the job that the person can go and do it the way you want them to. After that minute, all they have to go on is what you said, written down on one page. One page. One minute.

How would you explain the job you want them to do?

Here’s the rub… Ken Blanchard says a) It can be done, and b) If you can’t do it in a minute, there’s a good change you don’t actually know what you want.

Do you know what you want?

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.

To make an overall improvement, start with just one thing

If you want to improve something in your ministry, say your public meetings, or the content of your bible studies, don’t think that the only way to do it is by a massive overhaul.

Sometimes, quality has slipped over time. Or maybe it was never there. Sometimes, there hasn’t been a solid biblical foundation laid out to encourage people putting effort into it.

But sometimes, if you want to see something improve, you just need to start with one aspect. The quality of the public prayers, the quality of the kids talk, the quality of the music, the outline, etc.

Of course we’d like all those things to be great, but by working hard at improving one of these aspects, it will cause all the others to ‘lift their game’ so to speak.

We noticed this at NextStep. Our membership team improved the event, the process, the talks, until we got to the point where the booklet didn’t ‘fit’ with the quality of everything else. So we took the opportunity to make the booklet amazing. Fully colour printed, beautifully designed. Looks tops!

Guess what happened next…

All the other aspects of NextStep got put under the microscope to get them to match the quality of the booklet. All the content got re-evaluated, and there’s so many changes to make for the next one.

Do one aspect well, watch the others rise to the challenge.

Do your professionals volunteer?

Do you ask the Pre-school teacher in your church to run your crèche? Or the full-time photographer to take photos for church? Or the web designer to make your church website? Or the architect in your congregation to design your church?

1. You don’t have to use them. They may not be the right person for the job you want done. Don’t commit to using them until you’re sure they can do what you have in mind.
If you do decide to ask them to volunteer and use those skills

2. Clarify whether its paid or unpaid. If you have no intention of paying them, be clear, upfront, honest. Give them an out.

3. If your not going to pay them, make sure your not “the client”. This is really hard, but so important.
You want to coach them to think of it as their own project, not “for church” or “for you”, but their own. A bit like if a photographer was talking photos of her family, or a designer was designing his own wedding invite, or a Pre-school teacher was looking after her cousins.

Why? Because its their church they are serving.

In the end you want them look at what they’ve done and be proud to put their name to it because the believe in the cause they did it for, not just because its another “job”.

Bad motives make bad excuses

What do you do with the person who wants to pull out of volunteering because they “don’t feel like they’re doing it for the right reasons”.

It’s hard because motives do matter. We want people to do things with good gospel-centred Jesus-honouring motives.

But notice something in that quote… they’re aware of what they’re motives should be. If you asked them something like, “What motives do you think you should have?” they could probably answer you.

So if you know the good motives you should have, and you realise that you don’t have those motives… determine to have different motives. Enter that struggle.

Encourage people to persever in serving Jesus even when they don’t feel like it. Encourage them to set about altering their motives like they would alter any other aspect of sin or struggle with temptation.