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?

 

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?

3 Must Reads

Chris Brogan (chrisbrogan.com) recently threw out the idea of only reading 3 books in the course of a year.  The idea is that when we try to read a lot of books, we treat them like a to do list and don’t actually get much out of them.  Instead, he says, read fewer books, but spend more time with each to get the most out of them.

If you were to take this approach to reading on Church Organization this year, here are the three books I’d put in your hands:

 1. Advanced Strategic Planning: A New Model for Church and Ministry Leaders
In this volume, Aubrey Malphurs not only explains the benefits of long term strategic planning, but goes in depth on how to do it.  384 pages of how to make a strategic plan for your church.  This is a resource I use all the time. 

2. The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business
Ranked the #3 Business Book of 2012 by Amazon, The Advantage brings together much of Patrick Lencioni’s work into one volume.  While his narratives are easier to read, The Advantage brings all the deliverables into one book as a plan for getting your organization healthy.  It will help you assess the health of your church staff, leadership, and volunteers.

3. Fusion: Turning First-Time Guests into Fully-Engaged Members of Your Church
Nelson Searcy is an excellent systems thinker.  It is worth your time to read all of his books, but this is the best introduction to church systems.  In Fusion, you will learn how to create an Assimilation System in your church.  The principles of building a system then will help you as you look at other areas within the church.

These three books will put you in position to be a more organized and effective church.

What 3 books would you recommend I read this year?