4 Obsessions of an Extra/Ordinary Pastor

I love Patrick Lencioni’s writing. His case study style fits my learning style, and he says simple, yet profound things. Randy Richards, one of my professors said “You know something is true when you hear it for the first time but think you’ve known it all along.” That is what Lencioni does. You are reading a new insight, but you could swear you knew it for years. The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive is like that.

But I find that pastors often have a hard time taking business insights and translating them to their realm. So here is my “church translation” of the Four Obsessions

1. Build and Maintain a Cohesive Leadership Team

The first obsession lead pastors must have is the obsession to build and maintain a cohesive leadership team. Obviously, this refers to the staff, but even more so to the leading board of the church. The pastor must have a Board that understands the vision and mission of the church and is sold out to making it a reality. To make this happen, the lead pastor must have a large part of (if not the only part of) choosing the members of the Board. Then, he has to take the time it takes to get them to the point where they trust each other and know each other personally. This might mean that some meetings are all about building the group and leave “mission critical” issues off the agenda. I recommend Larry Osbourne’s Sticky Teams as a guide to this area of your leadership.

2. Create Organizational Clarity

The second obsession of the lead pastor must be to create clarity about the church. This means that they do need to take the time to really seek God’s face on the mission of their church. Why is your church there as opposed to another? What is your church supposed to do that another could not? And how are you going to do it – what is your strategy? If the lead pastor is unsure of the purpose and strategy of the church, everyone else will be too. And a church with no direction is going to go nowhere fast.

3. Over-Communicate Organizational Clarity

Thirdly, the lead pastor must over-communicate that clarity to the church. You have to tell the leadership, the staff, the congregation, and maybe even the community what your church is about until you are blue in the face. This means carving out time on Sunday mornings. It means using email, newsletters, thank you notes in giving statements, the church sign, the business meeting, staff meeting, board meeting, and personal conversations. As Lencioni says, when your people make jokes about how much you talk about it, you are starting to talk about it enough. Talk about it often, and in multiple media.

4. Reinforce Organizational Clarity through Human Systems

Last, the lead pastor must reinforce the purpose and strategy of the church through all of the human systems. You must choose leaders based on it. You must choose volunteers based on it. You must decide what programs to have based on it. You must “fire” volunteers when they don’t own it. You must reward people publicly who are getting it. You must create your budget around it (if you don’t think that creating a church budget is a human system, you must not have done it before). Every place that you have a system that touches leadership, staff, volunteers, donors, or congregants, you have to alter the system to support your purpose and strategy.

In sum, a pastor’s role is not just to preach and teach. It is to lead the church. Leadership requires having a direction, knowing that direction, communicating that direction, and making that direction strategically correlated to everything about the church.

I think this is hard for a pastor in our church culture because it will require him to say no to a lot of things people want him to do. What do you think? Is this doable, or will it require a paradigm shift for a lot of churches?

 

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Meeting Your Ministry

Nail-the-meetingWhen it comes to our church and ministry, one of the last things we want to deal with is meetings.  We can’t seem to hold a productive meeting, we can’t seem to get church members to show up at annual meetings, and our meetings seem to lead to more meetings.  All of this is discouraging.

However, Meetings are essential to your church!  As a church leader it is important to become a master at Meeting your Ministry.

Meetings Establish Ministry Alignment

One of the most important reasons you must Meet in your ministry is because meetings get everyone on the same page.  You are fooling yourself if you believe that everyone knows what is going on and has the same ideas about why we are doing what we are if you don’t take the time to tell them all together.  Left to their own devices, most people will not understand what you understand.  They need to be told, and it needs to be all together so that they all hear the same thing.  Having meetings keeps everyone working in the same direction in the same manner.

Meetings Disseminate Vision

Every time you get your staff together, you have the opportunity to let your vision rub off on them, to show them again why we are doing what we are doing.  Without meetings, vision falls randomly onto individuals, leaving you with a staff that has varying degrees of understanding and buy-in to the vision.  Bring them together and cast it again.

Meetings Bring About Action

Good meetings lead your staff to act.  They end with clear direction for the staff to follow, and allow you a venue to hold them accountable to moving in that direction.  Remember this as you plan your meetings, and be sure to end them with a time to set clear directions for each staff member: “John, you are putting together that video for the baptism service.  Becky, be sure to call Joan about that question we had about the bulletin.”  Then follow up on the action plans.

If you need help having great meetings, I recommend Death by Meeting by Patrick Lencioni.  It is a quick read and has practical advice for making your meetings more efficient, more timely, and more fun. Or if you’d rather, leave a comment and we can have a conversation.  I love helping people create better meetings.

Do you love the meetings in your church or organization?

Why details matter to your church

A major push over the last several years has been made to help churches and pastors look at the big picture.  Much has been written on how a church can discover a vision, communicate their vision, and enact their vision.

However, in our desire to create a high level vision for our churches, many of us may have begun to miss the trees for the forest.

We need vision, mission, and core values.  But we also need to pay attention to the details.  If the details of our ministry don’t match the vision, then we are communicating something to our church and our community that runs contrary to our vision.  This can come across as confusing, or even worse, disingenuous.

Case Study: First Church of The Suburbs

Vision: To see people far from God come near to Him.

FCtS as a fictional church has a vision that is geared around people who are far from God.  This is great, and near to the heart of God.  However, the devil is in the details.  If FCtS is going to accomplish their vision, they are going to have a lot of people who are far from God coming.  But if they don’t pay attention to the details, they will communicate that these people are unwelcome.  What do the grounds look like?  Have they taken good care of the landscaping so that people get the impression that this a place they want to be?  Is there clear signage in the building that indicates the places that they would need to find so that they feel comfortable?  Is the parking lot in good repair and adequately lit so that they feel safe?

If FCtS doesn’t pay attention to these details, and many more, then people who are far from God will get the impression from their church that they are unwelcome.  While this is far from the truth, it is a first impression that will be hard to overcome.

The details matter to your church.  They will convey a message, so you might as well make sure that they convey your vision and core values.

Where have you seen details help or hinder your church’s vision?