Leaders Made Here: Building a Leadership Culture

The church that I lead is working on building a stronger leadership culture. In some parts of our church, like most, this is hitting on all cylinders. In other parts, it is lagging behind.

Recently, I read Leaders Made Here: Building a Leadership Culture by Mark Miller where he lays out a five step process for building a leadership culture in your church or organization that I thought was helpful:

1. Define it. Forge a consensus regarding your church’s working definition of leadership. How do you define leadership in your church? Many people have a definition of leadership or what makes a leader, but few teams have a consistent definition of leadership.

You’ll want to be able to answer these questions: What makes someone a leader in general? What makes someone a leader at your church? What are the attributes of a leader versus a doer or a follower?

2. Teach it. Ensure everyone knows your leadership point of view and leaders have the skills required to succeed.

There are so many ideas and resources out there to train leaders. What will you use? How will you help your volunteers and staff members grow as leaders?

Each staff member or team lead must think through how they will teach leadership to their teams on a weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly basis. This doesn’t have to a big event, but it can be. Simple nuggets, simple teachings and reminders often go the furthest over time, if shared consistently.

3. Practice it. Create opportunities for leaders and emerging leaders to lead; stretch assignments prove and improve leaders.

Pastors hate giving things away. I have guesses as to why, but that’s for another post. The reality is that people become leaders by leading. By hHaving a chance to risk something, to succeed or fall flat on their faces. Young preachers need to stand in front of groups and preach (this doesn’t have to be, and probably shouldn’t be, the main worship service at the beginning).

4. Measure it. Track the progress for our leadership development efforts, adjusting strategies and tactics accordingly.

Pastors are notorious (and I do this more than I like to admit) for starting something and not creating any way to measure and track it.

How will you know if you are developing more leaders this month, this year than last? It needs to be more than, “we have more volunteers than last year.” That isn’t always a sign that you have built leaders or a leadership culture.

5. Model it. Walk the talk and lead by example – people always watch the leader.

Sadly in most churches and organizations, the higher you go up the ladder, the less likely those leaders are to create and develop leaders. For some it is an inability to do it, not being sure how to do it, but for many, it is a fear of being replaced by someone younger or better. If you don’t develop leaders though, your church stops when you do.

For me, discipleship and leadership development are two sides of the same coin. Thinking about it this way has been incredibly helpful when it comes to developing leaders. People want to follow people who are growing. If you are building spiritually mature leaders in your church, you will be helping them to grow as disciples and leaders.

7 Quotes on Change from Carey Nieuwhof

If you are leading change in your church, here are some great quotes from Carey Nieuwhof in his book Leading Change Without Losing It: Five Strategies That Can Revolutionize How You Lead Change When Facing Opposition:

The loudest people affected by a proposed change are those who are most opposed. The more opposed people are, the louder they tend to become.

When you focus on complaints, you lose sight of the plan.

Will you focus on the people you want to reach, or the people you want to keep?

There is no way I know to engineer significant change and keep everyone you’ve currently got.

Everyone in your church likes your church the way it is; otherwise, they wouldn’t be there. It’s just that the rest of your community may not. Otherwise, they might be there.

When you consider the 10 or 100 who might leave your church if you change, just pause to remember the almost 10,000 who aren’t coming because, so far, you have failed to change. Maybe as leaders we need to start fearing that.

Here are 5 questions designed to help you discern whether a person is indeed the kind of person you can build the future of the church on:
  1. Is their vision primarily based on the past or on the future?
  2. Do they have a spirit of humility? Are they open or closed to the counsel of other people?
  3. Who is following them, and is this the kind of group that you would want around your senior leadership table?
  4. Are they focused on themselves or the people you are trying to reach?
  5. Do they offer positive alternatives that will help build a better future than your current vision for change?

12 Quotes from “The Pastor: A Memoir”

Over the summer, one of the books I worked through was The Pastor: A Memoir by Eugene Peterson. I’m not normally a memoir fan, but this one grabbed me and I got so much out of it. It was like sitting across from him and gleaning so many nuggets of wisdom.

Here are some things that stood out to me:

The pervasive element in our two-thousand-year pastoral tradition is not someone who “get things done” but rather the person placed in the community to pay attention and call attention to “what is going on right now” between men and women, with one another and with God – this kingdom of God that is primarily local, relentlessly personal, and prayerful “without ceasing.”

Congregation is composed of people, who, upon entering a church, leave behind what people on the street name or call them. A church can never be reduced to a place where goods and services are exchanged. It must never be a place where a person is labeled. It can never be a place where gossip is perpetuated. Before anything else, it is a place where a person is named and greeted, whether implicitly or explicitly, in Jesus’ name. A place where dignity is conferred.

My “work” assignment was to pay more attention to what God does than what I do, and then to find, and guide others to find, the daily, weekly, yearly rhythms that would get this awareness into our bones.

Preaching is proclamation, God’s word revealed in Jesus, but only what it gets embedded in conversation, in a listening ear and responding tongue, does it become gospel.

We get serious about the Christian life, we eventually end up in a place and among people decidedly uncongenial to what we expected.

The Holy Spirit forms church to be a colony of heaven in the country of death.

Congregation is a company of people who are defined by their creation in the image of God, living souls, whether they know it or not. They are not problems to be fixed, but mysteries to be honored and revered.

My work is not to fix people. It is to lead people in the worship of God and to lead them in living a holy life.

The only way the Christian life is brought to maturity is through intimacy, renunciation, and personal deepening.

You are at your pastoral best when you are not noticed. To keep this vocation healthy requires constant self-negation, getting out of the way. A certain blessed anonymity is inherent in pastoral work. For pastors, being noticed easily develops into wanting to be noticed. Many years earlier a pastor friend told me that the pastoral ego ‘has the reek of disease about it, the relentless smell of the self.’

A clamoring ego needs to be purged from the pastor’s soul.

We had simplified our defining of Sabbath-keeping to three words: pray and play. On Sabbath we would do nothing that was necessary, obligatory, “useful.” We would set the day apart for the unfettered, the free, the unearned. Pray and play.

There were so many more, but you get the idea. Such a helpful book for me.

Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture

A few weeks ago I had a plane ride coming up, so I looked through my stack of books trying to figure out what to read. Nothing jumped out at me until I got to Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture by David Murray. I’m not sure why it jumped out at me. I don’t feel burned out. Katie and I live at a sane pace and do our best to say yes to the right things and no to the wrong things.

But one of the things I’m learning about reading as I get older is that I am reading less and less to find out something new or learn something I didn’t already know. I’m reading more and more to remind myself of truths I already know and stay on track with the decisions I’ve made.

That’s what I found most helpful about Reset.

Also very helpful was the layout of the book, how he moved from one topic to the next and built on them in a cohesive way. It really feels like a course you are walking through with a counselor, which it is. The reality check portion on pages 24 – 31 is worth the price of the book. He lays out a dashboard for your life, how to know if you are burning out, past burnout, how tired you are and where your tiredness and burnout are coming from.

This was incredibly helpful and something I’m going to use as a dashboard in my life, leadership, family and heart.

What Murray does that sets this book apart is, before getting to any practical tips, he lays out the theology of why what he is talking about matters. This is crucial, especially on the chapter about medication and the chapter about food and your body. Very few Christians have a theological way of looking at these topics, and I think it is hurting many of them.

Here are a few other things that jumped out to me:

  • Every problem I see in every person I know is a problem of moving too fast for too long in too many aspects of life. -Brady Boyd
  • Few things are as theological as sleep. Show me your sleep pattern and I’ll show you your theology, because we all preach a sermon in and by our sleep.
  • Contentment is a wonderful cure for insomnia.
  • Whatever we focus our hearts on first thing in the morning will shape our entire day. -Tony Reinke

I highly, highly recommend this book, especially if you are a leader and/or over 30.

 

Predictable Success: Getting Your Organization on the Growth Track and Keeping It There

Predictable success is something every pastor or leader wants. Is it possible? Sustainable? Can anyone or any church do it? According to Les McKeown in Predictable Success: Getting Your Organization on the Growth Track and Keeping It There, the answer is yes.

But first, what is it?

Any organization (or church) that is in Predictable Success exhibits five main characteristics that, taken together, distinguish it from organizations at other stages in the growth cycle:

  1. Decision making. The ability to readily make and consistently implement decisions.
  2. Goal setting. The ability to readily set and consistently achieve goals.
  3. Alignment. Structure, process and people are in harmony.
  4. Accountability. Employees become self-accountable, in addition to being externally accountable to others.
  5. Ownership. Employees take personal responsibility for their actions and outcomes.

Reading through this book, I saw so many things from the church I lead, but I also found a roadmap to move it into a healthier growth cycle.

Here are a few other things I highlighted that might be helpful for you and your church:

  • Making the right decisions seems easy, but implementing decisions and making them stick is incredibly difficult.
  • In Predictable Success you know why you are successful, and you can use that information to sustain growth in the long term.
  • In Predictable Success the greater focus is on the execution of that decision once it is made.
  • The single most powerful characteristic of the Predictable Success organization is the existence of a culture of self-accountability.
  • A key identifier of an organization in Predictable Success: Management refuses to be distracted unnecessarily, crisis mode is rarely invoked and the organization restabilizes after problem solving, with minimal drama.
  • There are two stages to achieving results in business: First, making the right decisions to begin with, and second, implementing those decisions effectively.
  • Too many systems and processes in an organization cause it to slow down and lose its flexibility and lead it to look inward rather than outward.
  • The concept of ownership and self-accountability is the single most important factor contributing to Predictable Success.
  • In Predictable Success, employees take responsibility for outcomes.

10 Favorite Reads of 2016

Each year I post a list of my favorite books, the ones I would call the best books of the year. To see my list of favorite books from past years, simply click on the numbers: 201220132014 and 2015. For me, I love this list because it shows what has influenced me in the past year, where I’m growing and what God is teaching me. If you are a leader, you should be a reader. There is no way around that.

While most years I have struggled to put this list together, this year there weren’t as many great books or must read books as previous years. I also read fewer books than previous years as I feel like I moved through books at a slower pace. You’ll also notice some books that are a little different than years past. Most of the time I read lots of leadership books. This year, as Katie and I have been doing the three year Leader’s Journey from Crosspoint with Jim Cofield and Rich Blass (the authors of The Relational Soul: Moving from False Self to Deep Connection), I am reading less leadership books and more books on my soul, relational health, family of origin, and understanding my personality. It has been scary and exhilarating. The conversations Katie and I have had have been incredible, but also painful.

This list reflects that.

So, here is the list of my 10 favorite reads from 2016 and why I liked them:

10. Team Genius: The New Science of High-Performing Organizations by Rich Karlgaard Michael S. Malone

This book answered a puzzle I had for three years: What makes the best teams work? The answer lies in the power of a pair. Yes, large teams are important, and even threes work together well, but nothing is stronger than the power of a pair. Incredibly helpful for leaders and church planters.

9. Future Grace: The Purifying Power of the Promises of God by John Piper

Yes, I’m reformed, and no, I had never read Future Grace by John Piper until this year. I know.

If you meet someone who has not read this book or has never read a book by Piper, this is the book to read. It is chock full of gospel goodness and reminders. I probably highlighted more than half of the book. I loved how it is broken up so you can read a chapter a day and be done in a month. It was perfect to read each morning and restore truth into my soul in much needed places.

8. You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit by James K.A. Smith

I love the idea of habits and how they work. This book looks at the spiritual side of habits, which is something that is important in the discussion. Smith also looked at how habits get formed in culture, churches, families and passing on your faith. It was incredibly helpful for Katie and me as we think about not only building habits into our lives, but also into the lives of our kids.

7. Wholeheartedness: Busyness, Exhaustion, and Healing the Divided Self by Chuck DeGroat

I read this book on a plane ride, and it was a punch in the gut. I’ve started to realize in the past year that I am not as fully present in relationships as I should be or would like to be. This book was incredibly helpful in understanding that and how to change it.

6. The Heart of a Servant Leader: Letters from Jack Miller

This was another book that I read like Piper’s, one chapter each morning after reading my Bible. It is a collection of letters from the life of a pastor. There is so much richness in them as he shares advice, pain, prayer requests, loneliness, weariness and joy. This is one of those books that I will re-read on a regular basis. There is so much in this for pastors. I love Miller’s passion for evangelism and missions.

5. The Power of the Other: The startling effect other people have on you, from the boardroom to the bedroom and beyond-and what to do about it by Henry Cloud

This book surprised me in how much I liked it. We often underestimate the power of people in our lives but also the power we have over other people. Cloud looks at the power people have over us and how we react to that, how we handle that in our lives and how we limit that power when it is unhealthy. Incredibly insightful as it relates to family systems and teams.

4. A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix by Edwin Friedman

This is part leadership book, part organizational health book and part family systems book. When I got done, I told Katie I will probably have to read this book at least five times to fully grasp everything that Friedman has in it. Incredibly eye opening as to why churches are unhealthy, why families split, why people give so much backlash to leaders and why leaders lead so poorly.

3. Surrender to Love: Discovering the Heart of Christian Spirituality by David Benner

This is one of those books that if you would have told me in 2014 I would not only read it but put it on my list of favorite reads in 2016, I would have laughed. Yet I’ve given out more copies of this book than any other book I’ve read. I’ve bought it for several friends.

Here’s the foundation: Everything in the Christian life goes back to God’s love for you. Yet most of us resist that (even as Christians) and miss out on the power of that love and how that love changes everything.

2. The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile

I’m a huge believer in understanding yourself. Katie and I had to take the enneagram in the Leader’s Journey, and it answered so many questions in our relationship and how we operate. This book is a great companion to taking the test. Cron is hilarious and the spiritual formation insights are really helpful. Once you understand your personality and those around you, you are able to navigate relationships and teamwork in a healthier way. Knowing what it is like to be on the other side of you is crucial.

1. Strong and Weak: Embracing a Life of Love, Risk and True Flourishing by Andy Crouch

I feel like this book covers what God has been teaching me in the last year. It is has been hard, often painful and uncomfortable. I’m an eight on the enneagram (see book #2) and we don’t do feelings or gray areas, so this book has been helpful. If you are a leader (and you are like me), this is a book you need to read.

5 Books for Leaders to Read this Month

I’m often asked about books I’m reading or enjoying. I used to write long book reviews for books, but that takes a long time and I don’t like reading long book reviews. I want to know what it is about and if someone liked it.

So, if you’re looking for a book to read next, here are five you might want to consider:

book

The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance—Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matterss by Sinclair Ferguson

If you are like me, you have no idea what the marrow controversy is and why it matters. I didn’t before reading this book, but wow, it is packed with good gospel truths. I probably highlighted half of this book and got so much out of it as it relates to understanding God’s grace, being set free from legalism and performance based Christianity.

This is a heady book, so be ready. But it is incredibly worth reading.

generational-iq_0Generational IQ: Christianity Isn’t Dying, Millennials Aren’t the Problem, and the Future is Bright by Hadyn Shaw

If you listen to experts and statisticians, you will hear someone say, “The church is dying. Millenials aren’t going to church.” Are churches dying? Some are. Are millenials going to church? Some are.

This book was helpful on two levels. One, as a pastor, this is a great book to understand how different people in your church relate to each other and to God. Depending on when someone was born has an enormous influence on how they relate to God, how they worship, and how they view the Bible and community.

Two, as a parent it is easy to think my child will connect to God the way that I do. Shaw walks through multiple ways for parents to understand why their child is so different from them when it comes to spirituality.

If you have a millenial child or want to reach millenials, this is an incredibly helpful book.

bookYou Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit by James K.A. Smith

I love the idea of habits and how people make changes that stick. This book took a totally different approach on that topic by looking through the lens of the stories we tell ourselves, the stories we pick up from the world around us and how those stories make an impact on our life and spiritual habits. For parents, there is a lot in this book about how to pass your faith on to your child.

bookAmerican Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America by Colin Woodard

This one is obviously different than all the others, but really interesting.

Let me make a confession first. It is really popular right now to read history books. I love history and I try, but I never make it past page 50. This one was different.

Woodard looks at the idea that America was never a united nation, that we were settled by 11 different nations in different regions. The ones who settled New England or the Deep South still impact how the people and cultures work in those areas, how they handle business, think about government and laws, etc.

On a personal note, this book also helped me to see why some people move to Arizona and don’t stay, and also about 28 states I never want to live in.

bookThe Power of the Other: The startling effect other people have on you, from the boardroom to the bedroom and beyond-and what to do about it by Henry Cloud

This one is a book I will re-read. The ideas in this book are so powerful. We often underestimate the power others can have on us and the power we can have on other people.

Cloud walks through what healthy relationships and healthy attachment looks like, what prevents you from it, and how some relationships you have you need to end or put boundaries around.

He also helps you to see if you are creating unhealthy relationships in your world. Bill Hybels said at this year’s leadership summit that this was the best book he read all year.

Happy reading!

The Power of the Other: The startling effect other people have on you, from the boardroom to the bedroom and beyond-and what to do about it

This one is a book I will re-read. The ideas in this book are so powerful. We often underestimate the power others can have on us and the power we can have on other people.

Cloud walks through what healthy relationships and healthy attachment looks like, what prevents you from it, and how some relationships you have you need to end or put boundaries around.

He also helps you to see if you are creating unhealthy relationships in your world. Bill Hybels said at this year’s leadership summit that this was the best book he read all year.

Generational IQ: Christianity Isn’t Dying, Millennials Aren’t the Problem, and the Future is Bright

If you listen to experts and statisticians, you will hear someone say, “The church is dying. Millenials aren’t going to church.” Are churches dying? Some are. Are millenials going to church? Some are.

This book was helpful on two levels. One, as a pastor, this is a great book to understand how different people in your church relate to each other and to God. Depending on when someone was born has an enormous influence on how they relate to God, how they worship, and how they view the Bible and community.

Two, as a parent it is easy to think my child will connect to God the way that I do. Shaw walks through multiple ways for parents to understand why their child is so different from them when it comes to spirituality.

If you have a millenial child or want to reach millenials, this is an incredibly helpful book.

5 Books Every Pastor & Church Staff Should Read

The old adage “leaders are readers” is true. The same goes for a leadership team or staff team at a church. Yet with so many books on the market, it is hard to know which ones to read as a team and which ones will be helpful. When I’m asked about books we have read at Revolution or ones I think are particularly helpful for pastors and church planters, I find myself going back to the same ones.

the advantage

The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business by Patrick Lencioni

The Advantage is all of Lencioni’s books wrapped up into one. I think it is one of the most thorough and helpful books for a leader to read. The discussions around clarity and organizational health are something most churches struggle with, and if they got it right it would not only help take their churches to new levels, but it would also help them reach more people.

book

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t by Jim Collins

If you run in leadership circles, you have probably read Good to Great, but the wisdom in it seems incredibly timeless. I have read through this book multiple times, and the images that he uses to get his point across are incredibly helpful.

chess not checkers

Chess Not Checkers: Elevate Your Leadership Game by Mark Miller

This book was a game changer for me. This is a book that explains what happens in a church at each growth barrier without the church or its leaders knowing. If you are facing a growth barrier or can’t figure out why something isn’t working, start with this book.

book

Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow by Carey Nieuwhof

Carey’s book helps you as a leader and a team have conversations you need to have about why your church isn’t growing, why people don’t want to serve, why the next generation isn’t that interested in the gospel and what to do about it.

teams that thrive

Teams That Thrive: Five Disciplines of Collaborative Church Leadership by Warren Bird & Ryan Hartwig

This is the best book on teams in a church. The authors lay out what a healthy team looks like, what they do, how they operate and how to move your team to becoming a team that thrives.