The reason you will never have what you need

Posted on 30. Sep, 2014 by .

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Several weeks ago I attended the Catalyst One Day hosted at a local church. Content delivered by Andy Stanley and Craig Groeschel left me with dozens of ideas to process, but one single thought has returned to the surface more than the others – something Craig mentioned.

He explained how church leaders often say things like, “Our volunteers will never show up at the time when we need them,” or “Families don’t seem to care about the resources we’re creating for them.” He described that these statement are looking at the situation from the wrong perspective. What we should say is the truth. “We’ve not yet led out volunteers to show up when we need them.” “We’ve not yet led families to use the resources we create for them.” No, this isn’t just positive thinking mumbo jumbo – it’s taking responsibility for what we haven’t yet done.… Read the rest

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Systems: Don’t forget about the human element

Posted on 24. Sep, 2014 by .

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I LOVE systems. I LOVE the efficiency. I LOVE the productivity. I LOVE the automation. However, there is a very dangerous side to every system and I see the negative impact of a strong process all the time. Sometime the system is elevated above the people.

We’re in ministry, which is the people business. Sometimes people don’t fit into our system. Their personalities and habits are completely unpredictable and they don’t do what we expect. They pop out of the plan and process we’re “working” and then we get irritated. We say things like, “Why won’t they call me back?” “Why do they have to be so difficult?” “Don’t they know that we have a way of doing things here?”

Yes, this is irritating. … Read the rest

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Don’t ignore your system

Posted on 23. Sep, 2014 by .

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Recently I’ve written a lot about systems and processes. I love a good system and I’m always looking for a tool or trick that makes me better by taking myself out of the equation. However, I’ve learned that there’s another side of the coin when it comes to systems. There are some things to be aware of and I’ll start with this little idea.

You have systematically thought through a problem.

You created a system to take into account all the variables.

You have a process that efficiently does what you created it to do.

Whatever you do:

Don’t ignore your system!

Don’t sidestep your system!

Don’t show someone preferential treatment and bypass what you’ve set up!

Just a few weeks ago, my wife ate something and had an allergic reaction. … Read the rest

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FOR SALE: Awesome Kid’s Welcome Center

Posted on 22. Sep, 2014 by .

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Eight years ago, Gateway Church opened the doors in NW Austin to a new facility which included a kid’s ministry building. The ministry “Kids Quest” had an “explorers/adventure” theme which was expressed throughout the building through many murals and 3D features. The centerpiece of our theme was expressed through our check-in/welcome area boat. It’s very impressive. This boat was custom built as a check-in desk that could be manned by 4-5 volunteers and contains an incredible amount of storage in all the cabinets below the counters.

Well, we’re doing some theme modifications and changing up our lobby to better match where we’re headed in the future and the future doesn’t include a giant boat. Which means – we’ve got a giant boat for sale.… Read the rest

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Does Kidmin matter?

Posted on 15. Sep, 2014 by .

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What a silly question. Of course it does. I don’t have to convince you, do I? The problem is convincing others, right? Maybe you have found yourself in a situation like this:

  • You discovered that the monthly dry cleaning bill for the choir robes is larger than your monthly budget
  • You’ve been patiently waiting to come on staff full time, shortly after they hire the maintenance director, women’s director and administrative assistant to the missions pastor
  • You got in trouble  because the associate pastor’s wife found ground-in goldfish crumbs in the nice carpet where they kids aren’t allowed to meet

It’s so easy to become cynical, resentful and bitter when the ministry area you oversee isn’t valued as much as you believe it should be valued. This is what makes you a fantastic leader over this area, but it’s critical that you don’t “go there” emotionally. It’s frustrating, but it’s an unhealthy path that will damage you in more ways than one.

However, you serve in a very strategic place. You oversee the children’s ministry which IS a place of influence whether you realize it or not. … Read the rest

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You need a fitbit

Posted on 18. Aug, 2014 by .

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Okay, I don’t actually know if you need one or not, but go with me here for a minute. Back in late June, I bought a fitbit for myself. I knew that I need to continue to focus on my health. I liked the idea of a fitbit. It measures daily activity. It helps set daily goals. It tracks progress (or lack of it). It has a social component where I can track how I am doing compared to friends. I wasn’t sure how much I’d like it or how well it would work for me.

I love it.

Since I got it nearly two months ago, it has been off my arm only to charged the battery.

I am constantly assessing how much activity my body is getting. Tracking my progress helps me make sure I get enough steps in for the day. It motivates me to take walks in the evening. I find myself parking in the back of the parking lot or walking to the pool rather than driving the car. I helps me see how sedentary I can be on certain days and help me think of ways to be more active. Nearly all my NextGen staff has one, so we enjoy taunting and encouraging each other every week. I’ve lost a little bit of weight (yes, even after a month long vacation) and I’ve had lots of people ask me if I’ve been losing weight.

Thanks fitbit.

Wait a second, this post isn’t a promotional piece about the fitbit.… Read the rest

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App of the Week: Google Drive

Posted on 17. Aug, 2014 by .

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The app I’d like to introduce to you this week isn’t a new app, but over the years it has been nicely developed and has become more and more useful as time goes by. Quite simply, it’s the Google Drive app for the iPhone (I don’t have an android device, so I’m sure it works as well or better on one of those devices).

Several years ago, my entire team (and most of the church staff) converted to google docs/drive for word documents and spreadsheets. We created an official “NextGen” shared drive and virtually every file we create lives in this drive. It’s essentially like having a corporate server without the need for being on the church network or having to hassle with a VPN when offsite. Our team has adapted well and so everything is there.

The Google Drive app for the phone is amazingly convenient. Since EVERYTHING is in our Google Drive, accessing any document or spreadsheet is super easy. I can search any document or easily browse through all of our folders to find the document I’m looking for.

From the app, I can quickly view, share or print any file. Here’s what makes this app perfect:… Read the rest

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Systems: Improving where you struggle

Posted on 15. Aug, 2014 by .

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One of the things I love about systems is that they often make me better than I really am. I think that we sometimes have this idea in our mind that we just need to be better, get better and become someone without weakness. This side eternity, I think we make this harder than it needs to be. Most strong leaders will tell you that they didn’t become who they are because they focused on making their weaknesses strengths. They became who they are by making there strengths even stronger. Primarily focusing on your weakness can be a fleeting endeavorer and at best, only makes you average.

That’s why the best leaders recruit people who are DIFFERENT from them. They recruit people who are strong where they are weak. They cover all their bases so that they can focus on what they can do better than anyone else.

Systems can be very similar to this. I meet ministry leaders all the time who consistently fail in the same areas all the time.… Read the rest

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Systems: Anticipating what is coming

Posted on 13. Aug, 2014 by .

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Yes, systems take extra work to set up and extra work to maintain. Systems require you to take a short break from the busy and think about things you don’t often think about. However, a little investment of time and mental energy to create and set up systems will pay dividend for years. They will enable you to spend more time doing the things that make a bigger impact. One of the first steps to setting up systems requires you to be a futurist. Basically, anticipate what is going to happen. Let’s take a look at what this means practically.… Read the rest

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Children’s Bible Review: Power Bible

Posted on 12. Aug, 2014 by .

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A few months ago, the folks from Green Egg Media contacted me and asked me if I’d be willing to review their new Power Bible. I had never heard of the Power Bible, so I was happy to get my hands on it. They sent me book 1: From Creation to the Story of Joseph and book 8: The Light of Salvation. I figured I’d review them and give them away for someone to enjoy.

I’ll be honest. I wasn’t impressed immediately and I put off doing the review because I don’t feel comfortable recommending something I don’t believe in. What I didn’t like was simply a matter of personal preference and I’m kind of ashamed to admit it. I wasn’t a fan of the style. It’s of the Japanese anime style of art and I’m just not a fan. I think anime grew in popularity after I became an adult, so I don’t have any attachment to the style. I just had a hard time imagining Jesus and these other Bible characters I’ve known all my life as anime cartoons. Again, totally my personal preference and opinion. Well, something interesting happened.… Read the rest

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