Monday, January 26, 2009

Change Begins with Me

Change. It is everywhere around us.

Our former pastor and his wife used to sing a song every once in a while back when we lived in the Washington, DC area. That song was “Change My Heart O God” and it was written by Eddie Espinosa. Here are some of the lyrics in case you don't know this praise chorus.

Change my heart oh God
Make it ever true
Change my heart oh God
May I be like You

You are the potter
I am the clay
Mold me and make me
This is what I pray

Change my heart oh God
Make it ever true
Change my heart oh God
May I be like You

That song did not mean as much to me back then as it does today. Today, my life is all about change. There are changes at work. There are changes at church. There are changes at home. Change is everywhere.

Benjamin Franklin said, “There is nothing certain in this world but death and taxes.” And I would add one more thing to that list; Change!

But let me split a few hairs with the beloved Benjamin Franklin. I would suggest that external change is in fact inevitable. While internal change is not inevitable. So, while the world around me is rapidly changing, it is up to me do determine if I will accept those changes or reject them.

We recently elected a president in the United States who ran on a platform of “Hope and Change”. Not all change is good. Not all change is bad. But this much I know. God wants to deal with changes in me at a heart level. While I may want to make cosmetic changes on the outside. God wants to change me from the inside.

So, those lyrics that Pastor John and Amy used to sing are ringing in my ears today. And I say with them, “Change my heart, oh God.” Then and only then will I be able to be effective in ministry and demonstrate life-altering change the way that Jesus Christ intended.

What about you? Are there any big changes going on in your life? Are there big changes going on in your heart?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

"Communication is a wonderful thing"

My wife tells me that all the time. She tells our kids that all the time. And they are all grown up! But she keeps telling me that, so I must still need to learn it!

She reminds me that communication is a two-way street. Many times I forget that.

That little reminder is especially true in a church situation when it is about to embark on a major ministry or make a change to an existing ministry. As leaders, it is our responsibility to clearly and effectively communicate not only what we are doing, but also why we are doing it.

Although there may be plenty of printed materials, posters and other collateral material regarding the big change, that alone may not be clear and compelling communication as to “Why?” you are making this change or embarking on this journey. As a Mass Communications major in college, one of the things stressed to us was the importance of the feedback loop in any communication process.

So how do you have clear and effective communication that includes feedback? Well, you have to plan feedback into the process.

This is “Transilient Communication”. Transilient communication occurs when ideas, thoughts, feelings, learnings, knowledge, insights, and wisdom that might otherwise have remained dormant are allowed to emerge in an evocative but safe way. Transilient communication obliterates the barriers and puts everyone in touch with what is going on. And it connects them with others because they trust one another to hear what they say and listen to their heart. Imagine people deeply connecting with each other in this way.

This whole new level of communicating is a place where active listening to each other, (including those outside the tight circle of folks who are involved in planning the change) reflecting on our experiences, and synthesizing new insights from each others experiences are commonplace. And that brings about a fuller understanding of whether or not the intended message is being received by the target audience in the way that you intended it when you first planned the message.

But transilient communication takes courage. It takes time. It takes trust. It takes someone who is listening for the feedback.

Hey! Does anyone out there hear me???

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Is it time for a change?

That is one of the questions that face ministry leaders all of the time. Perhaps things are not progressing the way that you want them to. Or, perhaps your area of ministry is not as effective as you feel God would have it be. So, what do you do?

One of the things that will come to your mind will be the idea of trying something new or integrate something that the big Baptist down the street is doing. But is that the right thing to do? Well, only God knows for sure. And He will reveal it to you as you earnestly seek His face.

But here is the point that I would have you consider. Is change the right idea? Or is it better to evaluate and analyze what you are currently doing and seek to improve on the way that you are doing that ministry. Or, more succinctly put, is it a problem of design or a problem of execution?

Consider taking a prayerful and analytical view of your ministry before scrapping it in favor of something new and drastically different.

Check back here in the coming days for some more thoughts and ideas on this topic.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

How to Build a Great Team

The pastor who assembles a great leadership team around him shows confidence and enables the whole organization to be all that God has called them to be.

Here are a few ideas that you may want to consider:

  • Select Quality Members -- If you can choose your leadership team, do so wisely and with much prayerful consideration. If your local church or denominational polity requires a nomination and election process, then put a tremendous effort and prayerful consideration around who you select to be the nominating committee.
  • Clearly Define Roles and Responsibilities -- Being a leader means more than just sitting down once a month and listening to reports. It means being actively engaged in the life of the church for the 30 or 31 days between each monthly meeting.
  • Mentor Your Team -- Continue to build and mentor your team throughout the year. Spend quality time each and every board meeting on leadership development.
  • Build Esprit De Corps -- Make being a member of the team a worthwhile, caring and nurturing experience. Consider establish Prayer Partners among your board and encourage them to meet together outside of the regular meeting schedule.

There are many other things to consider when looking toward your new church year. These are just a few quick items to consider.