HOW CLEARLY DO YOU COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR CHURCH PEOPLE?

I’m slowly working through Will Mancini’s book “Church Unique”. I say “slowly” because he makes me stop and think a lot. Will spends a lot of time talking about vision clarity. In one place he talks about “Clarity Gaps”. He mentions four of these:

1. The gap between the leader’s perception and reality. Ouch! That one hurts already. Is he saying that we as leaders aren’t always in touch with reality? Here are a couple of questions he suggests:” Do you know the morale level of your congregation?” “Do you know how your leadership team feels today?”

2. The gap between what the leader is thinking and saying. He asks, “What really is the most important thing you need to say to your people?”  I have a bad habit of asking people that I coach to give me their vision in as few words as possible. I usually stop them about five minutes into the answer. By then I am confused by all of their words.

3. The gap between the leader’s words and how the followers receive those words. We’ve all got filters. People hear what we say through their unique filters. So many times what we say and what they hear are two very different things. Mancini asks “How will their hearts receive your words and metaphors?”  And “How many ways will they need to hear your ideas?”

4. The gap between the followers’ understanding and the words they use to communicate their understanding. Mancini admits that this one is beyond the leader’s ability to control. But the leader needs to monitor what the people are saying, looking for inaccuracies and misconceptions.

Each of these gaps is commonly found in churches (and any organization for that matter). It is the leader’s responsibility to communicate as clearly as possible, as often as possible and to listen for the feedback from the people.


 

LIES CHURCH PLANTERS TELL THEMSELVES

I just read an excellent post from Steve Sjogren entitled “12 Lies Church Planters Tell Themselves” on the Churchplanting.com blog http://tinyurl.com/d6kd8d8. I always love Sjogren’s  honesty and deep spirituality. Here are a few of those lies (in bold) with my own commentary on each:

If God blesses this plant, we’ll be up and running in no time flat. Steve uses the analogy of growing asparagus to emphasize the unpredictability of these things. I agree. God’s timing is not our timing. There are ways to speed up the process of building momentum in a plant, but ultimately God causes the growth. That’s in his time, not ours. I don’t think this means the planter ought to sit passively waiting for God to move. I’ve always believed the “work like it all depends on you/pray like it all depends on God” philosophy.

Since great preaching is vital from the beginning, I’ll spend quite a bit of time in message prep from the beginning of the plant. Preachers love to preach – I get that! But I have seen way too many planters launch too soon and focus too much on their speaking ability. I’d say the number one reason planters launch too soon is that they want to be “in the pulpit”. They can’t wait to be preaching regularly. The reality is that during the pre-launch phase you have the freedom to put all of your time and energy on things you will never have enough time and energy for once you are doing weekly services. Use that time wisely!

We’ll figure out how to take care of our money accounting details as soon as we have real money coming in. If you are even thinking about planting a church, go immediately to www.startchurch.com and sign up for their regular emails. These people are experts on all things financial and legal in the church. They will scare the mess out of you with their stories of church plants who didn’t handle these things well. To quote the great Mr. T, “I pity the fool” who doesn’t do this right from the beginning.

These are just a few of Sjogrens Lies. I encourage you to read his full article with his own commentary on these points.


 

Four Decisions part 3

This the third in a four part blog taken from an article by strategy guru Verne Harnish. My comments follow a brief description by Harnish:

EXECUTION DECISIONS

Execution challenges surface when your increasing revenues are not generating increasing profits. I’ve seen many firms triple their revenue, because they have capitalized on a differential advantage, only to see their profitability drop because of the sloppiness of their execution.

The other indication of poor execution is pure hours spent delivering your products or services. When execution is haphazard, the organization has to rely on the “heroics” of their people putting in incredible hours to just keep the wheels from falling off the organization. By simply tightening up your execution habits, you can dramatically improve gross margins and profitability while reducing the time it takes for everyone to complete their work.

My Comments

Again, he is talking about business here, but I see critical applications for the church as well. The most obvious place of poor execution in the church is in our most visible expression – Sunday worship. It is amazing to me how many church worship services are just plain sloppy. It is as if no one put any thought at all into execution. I know this one will get me in trouble, but it is true.

I believe God calls for our best, and this includes the way we organize and execute corporate worship. Like Harnish mentions, we rely way too much on “the heroics of our people”. Pastors, how far in advance do you plan your services? Is this enough time for the rest of your team to plan their part? Do you expect the worship leader to pick the right music at the last minute? Do you expect the tech team to slap together some slides on Sunday morning? Do you find yourself saying, “Let’s just wing it” on a regular basis? Our God and our people deserve better than that.

Some will say, “Well, I rely on the Holy Spirit”. Don’t you think the Holy Spirit is capable of inspiring in advance? Don’t you think God knew on day one what he was going to do on day six of creation? Or do you think he said, “I’ll just wing it.” We absolutely need to leave space for spontaneity in our worship events. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t plan and execute well.

We should pay attention to our execution of every critical system in the church. How well do you execute the Connecting System in your church? This includes appropriate and timely follow up of guests, events to help orient new comers and new member processes. You need to be obsessive about the execution of these. In my last pastorate we spent more time in staff meeting each week on this one system than on everything else we did. It resulted in substantial church growth.

Think for a minute about those systems that are critical to your church? How much attention is paid to the regular execution of these systems.