March 4, 2014

Finally, All the Help You Need to Build a Leadership Pipeline in Your Church

Developing Church Leaders

I have known Mac Lake for several years. I am convinced that God has raised Mac up to usher in a leadership development revolution in the church of North America. I am excited to bring this guest post from him:

It’s happened once again. You’ve lost a key leader and find yourself filling in and doing things you know you shouldn’t be doing. So, once again, you promise yourself that this year will be different. You’re going to conquer the challenge of leadership development and build a deep leadership bench- a pipeline for developing leaders – for your ministry.

Why is leadership development a reoccurring problem for so many? In short, it’s a lack of intentionality.  We know leadership development is important, but few leaders integrate it into their weekly routine. And even fewer develop an intentional plan that ensures an ongoing reproduction of leaders. It’s just too easy to be distracted by the urgent and allow the development of leaders to take a back seat to everything else. We feel stuck and we’re too busy to develop leaders, but we need more leaders to get all the work done.

In 2013 I begin working with Will Mancini at Auxano to provide a Leadership Pipeline Development process for churches. The process focuses on building a culture of leadership development and emphasizes four essential components of an intentional leadership development strategy:

STRUCTURE – How is your church structured? 

Just as our spinal structure can dramatically impacts our mobility, our church structure can impact the development of new leaders. Most churches structure for function rather than for development.  An intentional leadership development strategy focuses on both function and development.

SYSTEM – How do potential leaders move to new levels of leadership? 

It’s essential you have a defined system or map for moving leaders from one level to the next. The absence of such a system makes the leadership development pathway confusing and inconsistent. It unintentionally blocks the movement of leaders.

CONTENT – What skills are essential for every level of the leadership pipeline?

As leaders move to new levels of leadership it requires new skills. Too often we simply throw them into leadership responsibility without proper preparation. An intentional Leadership Pipeline Development plan has defined exactly what competencies are required for various levels of leadership, and how to get them there.

PEOPLE — Who is responsible for equipping new leaders?

If that responsibility falls solely on the shoulders of one person, you will never build a culture of leadership development. The focus must be on raising an abundant harvest of reproducing leaders in your church. That’s when you will begin to fill your leadership pipeline.

Throughout 2014 I will be working with individual churches in six month iterations. During the six months you will get…

  •  20 Principles for creating a culture of Leadership Pipeline Development
  • Tools and techniques for developing leaders
  • A template to guide you in building your own systems
  • Development of a learning path for every level of your pipeline
  • An action planning guide for use between sessions

If you’re interested in participating in a six-month process for building an intentional Leadership Pipeline Development strategy, fill out the form below and I’ll connect with you.

February 22, 2014

7 Killer Lessons from Derwin Gray’s School of Ministry Vision Casting

Derwin Grey on Church on Church Vision CastingI have the privilege of spending lots of time thinking about, reading about and listening to others talk about vision. Rarely do I find so much packed into one learning experience as I did with Derwin Gray who recently spoke at a Velocity.

Derwin is a former professional football player who leads Transformation Church. I have arranged fifteen quotes from his talk that boil down the essence of Derwin’s philosophy. These ideas are so clear in articulation and comprehensive in scope,  they actually create a mini-course in one post.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

  • Effectively casting vision never comes to an end.  It is a discipline.
  • You never leave the fundamentals.  You just drive deeper and deeper into them.
  • We are ruthless in our communication of the vision over and over and over again.
  • You cannot cast a vision that has not cast a spell over you.
  • Your ethos, culture must communicate the vision.
  • If you want to know what your vision is just look around.
  • Do your systems and processes move like an arrow to make your vision sharper?
  • Vision is the God-inspired ability to see a future that does not yet exist, but should.  This future is so Messiah-exalting and life-giving that people run into the future and drag back to the present.
  • What is not, but should be, according to the glory of God?
  • An effective vision casting has four parts – The Problem.  The Solution.  Why The Vision Must Be Implemented.  Why The Vision Must Be Implemented NOW.
  • Do you really believe your church can give a foretaste of the New Heaven and New Earth.
  • Every member has a role to play.  I am calling them into their destiny.
  • Every human being wants to be part of a cause beyond them.
  • The essence of leadership is embodying what you want people to do.
  • What sense would it make to learn the plays but not play the game?

Think for a minute, how consuming the very idea of vision is for Derwin. When we read these quotes, we gain all of these fundamental lessons about vision. Here is a restatement of Derwin’s ideas in seven killer principles.

#1   Vision is a daily pursuit that you never outgrow but only grow deeper in.

#2   Vision is inseparable from culture and therefore it connects to every other act of leadership, decision-making and communication. 

#3   Vision is not a organizational idea first but a human idea

#4   Vision is nothing if it’s not rooted in human problem and growing toward God’s glory. 

#5   Vision is a waste of time if it doesn’t involve everyone today.

#6   Vision must be lived as it is heard or it won’t really be heard.

#7   Vision gives meaning to the daily immersion of activity.

What else strikes you form these quotes?

February 20, 2014

Values or V-Necks? – 3 Simple Techniques to Hire for a Cultural Fit

Hiring for Cultural fit at your churchHiring the next staff member is one of the biggest decisions a church planter or campus pastor will make. As each team member comes on board, they will either greatly help or greatly hinder the vision of the team. So how do you maximize your skill in discernment? What techniques are easy to employ at the most critical step in employment? 

I have asked one of my team members, Bryan Rose, to share his thoughts. Before becoming an Auxano navigator Bryan was a coach to campus pastors and church planters as a successful campus pastor himself.

 Mistakes are most often made when hiring is based on surface characteristics like stage ability, resume experience or fashion sense, rather than on the foundation of church culture. Your values define your church’s culture. Therefore, values should form the basis of your staffing logic, whether the prospective leader is paid or unpaid. Well thought-through interview questions, based on values, could be the difference between a perfect match and the perfect storm.

The best values-based interview questions are those that do three things: 1) Hide the “right” response, 2) Reveal practice not thinking and 3) Mine for specifics. Let’s take a look at each technique and provide a simple illustration for each one.

#1 Hide the “Right” Response

Let’s imagine one of your church values is “Risk-Taking Faith.”

  • Ask…  If you knew that God would meet or exceed one goal you have right now, what would you ask for?
  • Not… What was the last faith risk you took?

Why? Because the natural tendency when being interviewed for a position you want is to frame the answer to what you think the interviewer wants to hear. Questions that state the value up front, don’t allow the candidate to reveal how the value is present – or not present – in their life and ministry.

#2 Reveal Culture in Practice, Not Thinking

Let’s imagine one of your church values is “Evangelistic Ethos.”

  • Ask… What do you know about your 5 closest neighbors (geographically) ?
  • Not… How important is evangelism to you?

Why? Because it is easy to talk about how things should be, and avoid talking about how things are. Questions that allow the potential staff member to speak to a value from experience not ideas, separate mere affinity from life application.

#3 Mine for Specifics, Not Answers

Let’s imagine one of your church values is “Doing Life Together.”

  • Ask… What was the last tough conversation a close friend had with you?
  • Not… Who are you doing life with?

Why? Because simple answers that are easily given leave little room for follow-up and become fairly useless in determining cultural alignment. Questions that generate responses with multiple follow-up possibilities (why don’t you have close friends? how did you respond to their criticism?) can produce a multi-dimensional understanding of the person in context of the church value at hand. So remember, experience is important, but programs will change. Stage skills are huge, but presentation can be developed. Fashion is fleeting, but skinny jeans will eventually go out of style… we pray. When you hire by values, culture becomes the glue that holds your staff together.

Bryan Rose, Auxano NavigatorCheck out Bryan’s blog Launch Clarity and his great content on the intersection of being church planter/campus pastor and leading with clear vision. (Also, don’t miss the post that made him famous.)

February 16, 2014

Three Sources of Original Ministry Vision in a Cut-n-Paste Church World

Church Vision and Santa Fe

I spent yesterday afternoon with my wife, Romina on Canyon Road in Santa Fe. It is one of the most concentrated art gallery areas in the world with over one hundred and fifty galleries in a mile stretch.

At one of the galleries, named the Gaugy Gallery, I met Michelle Gaugy who runs a nice shop and consults with artists. She caught our attention with one of her statements:

Most artists are just tweaking someone else’s work.

It became clear that  aspires to help artists to move toward originality of expression (in a similar way that I do with church leaders and church vision). And her gallery was a clear testimony to her life pursuit. As her robust intellectual style drew me in, I knew I could learn something on behalf of church leaders. What follows is my simple question and her responses. I will let you make the connection to ministry.

I asked, “So how does an artist develop originality?”

Michele replied with three answers:

#1: You must have a deep inner life. 

She emphasized the role of reflection for the artist emphasizing the ideas of personal surrender. She explained that the role of visual art is to be a conduit or language of the things that are most valuable to human beings, like the stuff that matters on your death bed. If the artist is not aware on that level, its easy to be tempted by technique and duplicating the style of others. 

#2: You must have a vibrant outer life.

The idea Michele unpacked here is that visual expression is most dynamic when the artist is not just focused on art. She explained how many great artists have occupations that defined their life that gave uniqueness and grounding to their work. The more that an artist can cross different life spheres including vocation, hobbies, and relationships, the better and more original the art will become.

#3 You must have a kindling mechanism

Finally Michele emphasizes the great artists must define and perfect a what she called a kindling mechanism; a way to jumpstart their best creative energy. She explained that for some it might be as simple as starting first thing in the morning to stay closer to a dream state. One famous artist would begin by putting his feet in cold water, while another would stay in prayer and meditation before painting.

It reminded me of why I love coming to Santa Fe to begin with as visiting here is a kindling mechanism for my writing. In fact, I wrote most of Church Unique while visiting Santa Fe.

So, what else would you add?

February 9, 2014

What’s More Important: A Culture of Mission, A Culture of Discipleship or a Culture of Leadership?

Culture of Mission

It’s amazing how “a culture of” lingo has been trending over the last couple of years. And for good reasons. The understanding of culture, especially with regard to congregational leadership, is very helpful. In fact when I pitched Church Unique in 2007, there were no popular leadership books with the title “church and culture” in the title. My working title for the book’s contract was:

OOZE VISION: How to Shape Church Culture to Guide Church Growth.

Since Church Unique, there have been at least five significant book titles (there are several others)  that have tried to leverage the idea of “culture” in the title:

So, the natural question seems to be, what kind of culture is most important? Does a culture of leadership trump a culture of discipleship? If I am working on a culture of mission, do I need to work separately on a culture of generosity? How many “cultures” am I supposed to be working on anyway?

Let’s start by eliminating the easy ones. As much as I believe in a culture of leadership and a culture of generosity, these are clearly subordinate to the biggest ideas of the church’s identity. Simply put God does not command us to go into the world and make leaders or centers of generosity. (More on Jesus use of leadership terminology.)

That leaves us with a culture of discipleship or a culture of mission. What is more important?

I don’t think there is an objectively correct answer to this question as much as there is a practically useful answer depending on your context. In the current context of North America in 2014, I believe the more useful answer is a culture of mission.

Why? There are four primary reasons:

  1. Most churches can easily mistake a programmatic culture for a culture of discipleship. Therefore the terminology doesn’t wake them up to their problem. A culture of mission has more teeth.
  2. The term discipleship tends to connote contextually, although not biblically, an inward or internal church focus. A culture of mission forces you to grapple with the people far from God whom you are poised to reach.
  3. A culture of mission subsumes a culture of discipleship so directly and clearly, but gives broader application to the nuances of each church’s application of mission. Mission is a bigger idea than discipleship in this regard.
  4. A culture of mission more clearly integrates all of the functions of the church better than a culture of discipleship. Again, this is not necessarily true at all times and places, but I believe there is a slight advantage to seeing it this way today.

Clearly a culture of mission and a culture of discipleship should take us to the same place. But I think it is more possible for a church to think of themselves as good at making disciples and be unclear on mission, than for church to be crystal clear on mission and not be focused on making disciples.

Another way I would support this point, is to ask the question, “What was in Jesus’ mind when he selected his first disciples. Mission or discipleship?” I did a fun post on this looking at three disciple-making catalysts in the life of Jesus. 

I am dying to hear your thoughts. What do you think?