If you’ve ever thought about blogging… (The top five resources for new bloggers)

If you’ve ever considered trying your hand at blogging here are the “Top Five” great resources for you…

And finally…

And may you enjoy the blogging journey!

The Top Five Benefits of Blogging for Pastors

Earlier this week I wrote a post that was up on churchcommunicationspro.com. In it I discussed the top five benefits that I have discovered of blogging… particularly for pastors.

Here it is…

I’ve been blogging since November 2006. I have discovered some GREAT
benefits from it…

1) It gives the church real-time, behind-the-scenes info!
We recently had a water line break in the church and people were able to read about it and see it before the weekend! I share things (e.g. upcoming sermon series) and ask for things (e.g. stories for upcoming sermon series). The people who read the blog have a hand in shaping sermon series and thought processes, and they also have a cool way of keeping on top of the fast flow of info!
2) It allows me to offer commentary on church life.
Recently I asked the question, “What should we expect from the church?” It provided some great give and take on what people can expect from our church!
3) It allows the church to see the “other side” of their pastor (particularly helpful in a larger church).
Here’s a “piece” of a comment left on my blog, “For people of Northgate who
don’t yet read your blog – this is excellent to put into the newsletter – for April. You could add it as an insert to the bulletin. You have such great info. I’ve learned so much about Northgate and the Petersons and even had my thoughts shaped and reshaped.” And that’s what I’m screaming about!!!
4) It provides opportunity to share and discuss vision
I can cast vision in small, consistent “chunks”! I am not dependent upon the “occasional” (at best weekly) dose of vision casting! I can do it every day on the blog (if I want)! The cool thing about blogging the vision is that people can interact and observe the interaction!
5) It keeps all of my thoughts in one place.
I always steal great ideas, and occasionally I’ll have a half-decent on myself! The blog lets me put all of them in one place! Every day I print out my blog (cause I have it sent to
myself… I wanted to increase my stats 😉 and put it in a folder that is labeled by the month. It’s like a journal… with pictures!
Why did I start blogging?
Two names…
1) Tony Morgan – made me realize the power of a blog
2) Cory Miller – made me realize that I could do it

Thanks to both of you!

The top five things every pastor should know about his/her church

When I first came to Northgate I was overwhelmed by how much information there was to get my mind around! I came from a church of 150 to a church of 600 so memorizing names alone was a HUGE challenge! Add to that the challenge of knowing systems, policies, schedules, strategies, etc. and it became a bit overwhelming!

I spent over a year asking other pastors, reading books, and wrestling with this question, “Out of all the things that I could know at Northgate, what are the pieces of information that I MUST know?”

At this point in my journey I believe it is critical to know these five things about the church…

  1. Attendance
  2. Giving
  3. Number of people who gave their life to Christ
  4. Number of people who are in some form of a group
  5. Number of people who are engaged in service

We keep track of this information on what we call “The Dashboard.”

Follow me on this one… when you’re driving on a journey to some destination it’s nice to be able to look down at the dashboard of your vehicle and in one look see all of the critical information – how fast you’re going; how many miles you’ve traveled; how much gas you have left; etc.

The dashboard enables the leader(s) to see all of the “Must-Know” information in one glance!

Every week, at our Management Team meeting, we are handed “The Dashboard” which allows us to see the five things listed above with some comparisons (last week; last month; last year). This allows us to get some context on how we are doing.

I want to know these five things because it allows me to get a handle on Northgate life in a glance.

If I see “Red Warning Lights” (e.g. number of people in groups declining) I start asking questions! If I see a significant rise in giving, I ask questions! If I see our attendance going up, but the number of people engaged in service staying the same… I ask questions!

One more cool thing that the Dashboard allows for is a place for stories. Numbers are great, but numbers alone are empty. We regularly take time to tell the story behind the numbers! For instance, if the number of people engaged in service is going up, it is cool to hear some of the stories of those serving! It is great to see that new people are coming to Jesus, but it is even better to know their names and hear their stories! The stories add “meat” to the “bones” the numbers provide! (A bit of a cannibalistic metaphor but harmless nonetheless… I assure you!) 😉

I realize that numbers alone are not everything, but I also know that they are the easiest form of measurement… therefore I watch the numbers and listen to stories!

Comments? Reflections? Observations? New insights?

The Top Five Reasons Why Leaders Fail

Last week I asked a question, “Why do leaders fail?” (see it here)

After hearing from a number of you and doing some reflection of my own I suggest that the top five reasons why leaders fail are as follows…

  • They disconnect from the people they are leading. The reality is that sometimes leaders can get so consumed in “leadership stuff” that they forget what leadership is all about… people! If the people you’re leading don’t like you, understand you, trust you, etc. … you ain’t leading! A great illustration of this is the ex-CEO of Home Depot… I blogged about it last week (read it here). Effective leaders make every effort to enage in “Management by Wandering Around” (for more on this idea click here).
  • They become proud and refuse to be questioned. When a leader refuses to be held accountable to someone or some standard… trouble’s on the way! I think people will tolerate a bit of ego, but when it becomes the driving force of the organization… the leader is destined to fail! Effective leaders embrace accountability and do not walk away from instruction! Effective leaders are continually learning and changing… implicitly recognizing that who they are today is not enough for tomorrow!
  • They are not authentic. One of my first mistakes at Northgate was trying to be someone I was not. I followed two godly, competent pastors and was totally unsure about how to pastor a large church… still am for that matter! I was well read in church growth and leadership literature and therefore tried to become someone that I thought the large church needed. MISTAKE! This bad decision cost me and our church. At the end of the day, through the grace of God and Northgate, I am realizing that the best thing I can do is be who God made me… not someone else! The best thing I have done, as a pastor/leader, is to identify my strengths and weaknesses, focus on my strengths, and staff to my weaknesses! Leaders who try to be someone else will fail… and hurt a lot of people!
  • They are authentic. OK, I know this is in direct contradiction to what I just said, but follow me on this… Sometimes “Being real” is not all it’s cracked up to be! Sometimes it is incumbent upon a leader to be contextually wise! In other words, discernment is critical for a leader! Sometimes, “Just being me” is stupid… so don’t do it! I think that “maturity” is knowing when to do/say what… effective leaders are mature and thus not always “Authentic” (i.e. “Just being me”).
  • They do to much. Jim Collins suggests that every leader should develop a “Stop-doing” list (read more here). Here’s the scoop… on a scale of 1-10 if I were to rank your “talent level”, most leaders would be between a 5-10 (this is not super analytical you know…). If each number represents the “things you can do well” then here’s the problem – If you can do five things well then chances are you are going to get frustrated when a “Two” or a “Three” tries to do any of those things that you are talented in… so you’ll take over, ’cause you can do it better (and probably you can too). The problem is that you, because you are multi-talented, can do more than one thing well… and because you care so much… you will do them! Unfortunately after time you will get burned out by doing so much “so well.” The struggle for talented people is that they have to say “NO” to some things that they could do a good job at! Just because you can do it, and even do it good, does not mean that you should do it! Effective leaders realize that their effectiveness lies not in doing everything that they can do, but in doing those things that only they can do. For instance, on the week I am scheduled to preach, there are a lot of things I can do, but only one person that can preach… so I should choose to let some things go (delegate them, procrastinate, ignore, etc.) and focus on the one thing that only I can do. Don’t fail because you do too much! Create a “Stop-Doing” list! (For more on this idea see Craig Groeschel’s five part post “Don’t Do It All” (part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

OK, there’s what I’m thinking… what do you think?

Five things I would do if I were the pastor of a small church

The other day I was thinking about my experience as a small church pastor. I spent some time reflecting on what I would do differently if I were to do it over again. My top five are…

1 – I would spend more time in personal evangelism.

The BEST THING A PASTOR CAN DO IS LEAD PEOPLE TO JESUS! This is critical in that it is what the church is supposed to do, but it is also critical in that it develops momentum! When people start seeing others come to Christ they either get excited and involved or they leave.

As the pastor of a small church most everything that happens is likely to end up on your plate. At some point you have to make a decision about priorities! If I had to do it over again I would choose evangelism EVERY TIME!

Your decision as the pastor of a small church to commit to personal evangelism will largely determine how effective your church is in bringing the unsaved to Christ.

2 – I would start more and different style worship services.

When I was pastoring at a smaller church we started a Saturday night service. I learned several things through that experience: 1) people will serve if there’s a place that scratches their itch. Most people don’t serve because the role where they would find the most fulfillment is already filled! So start a new service! 2) The more services you offer, the more convenient it is to come to church. Some people don’t like the words “convenience” and “church” in the same sentence, but I say, “Do whatever it takes to get people into church!” 3) People won’t be so quick to resist if it doesn’t “mess” with their worship time and genre preference. I realized that when we were worshipping at a different time (and sometimes in a different place) what we did and how we did it was not threatening to the existing congregation, and this enabled us to take some creative license.

3 – I would blog and promote it shamelessly.

The blog is one of the best tools of communication I am aware of! I would blog about church life (much like I’m doing here @ Northgate) and promote the blog as the best way to “be in the know” about the church! Often times churches rely on bulletins or newsletters to “get the word out.” The problem is that at best they are weekly publications! A blog can provide up to the minute information and commentary on church life! Every pastor should blog but it’s probably even more critical for the small church pastor to do so because of the ability to clarify “issues” and to cast vision!

4 – I would use other church’s resources without apology.

I would not insist on being original! It’s easy to spend large chunks of time creating “Kinda good” what someone else with better resources and more know-how has already created “Really good”! A few links here might help:

– From Lifechurch.tv (click here)

– From Sermon Spice (click here)

– From churchmarketingsucks.com (click here)

5 – I would build more teams.

One of the things that I did fairly well in a small church was to build teams (e.g. Hospital Care Team; Worship Team; Drama Team; Small groups; etc.). Looking back I realize that the more teams I had in place the more I could focus on the things that only I could do (e.g. preaching, prayer for the church, casting vision). I would build teams like crazy beginning by teaching the theology of spiritual gifts and their use, and secondly by telling stories (all the time) of people who’s lives had been changed through service!

If you’ve ever been a part of a small church or you are the pastor of a small church, I’m interested in your feedback on this post!