Sunday, August 9, 2009
I HAVE FOUND THAT people leaving churches usually give one of three reasons for their departure.
1. "I don't like it here"
Most people who visit our church love it. But some don't. And of those who don't, it's almost always a style thing that they have not liked.
For instance, some people want to sing hymns penned a hundred years ago rather than contemporary worship. Other people want a formal liturgy rather than the modern style of communication we employ and so on.
To change one's style in order to placate people is dangerous since you can quickly become someone or something that you are not. If it's true that you are most effective when you are being most authentic, then unfortunately you have to accept that some people will not stay at your church and there is nothing you can do to change that.
Rather than change our style to accomodate different people's preferences, we gladly recommend other churches in town where the style would better suit people's particular tastes.
2. "I don't belong here"
This is an issue of relationship and an area we are continually working hard on. People have a great need to belong and the church should meet this need better than any other organisation in the community.
I have found that people ultimately don't stay in our church because they love my preaching or enjoy the worship (though I'm sure that's part of it). Ultimately people stay in a church because they have forged meaningful relationships.
It takes time to build connections but they must be built. If people have failed to develop some key relationships within a few months they start to feel that, though they love the style, they just don't belong.
3. "I'm not needed here"
This is an issue of ministry. People need to make a contribution as well as to have community. This is why we make a point of helping people build relationships AND find a role.
Some months ago I told our worship pastor to double the size of our choir for no other reason than to give more people opportunity to be involved. People need to feel needed and so we must create opportunities for that need to be met.
Style is something that, by and large, people with either love or dislike. But connection and contribution are things that leaders must facilitate in order to help people make a church their home.
Leave a comment and lets get the conversation going.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Very few people have the opportunity to experience life on a nuclear aircraft carrier up close and personal. Recently, I had the extraordinary experience of spending a day and a night at sea in the Pacific on board the USS Nimitz. I was part of a Navy outreach program to give ordinary landlubbers like me a perspective on the mission and operations of a naval strike group.
I was excited. Who would turn down a chance to get on top of a nuclear power plant driving 100,000 tons of steel through the ocean, with 5,000 men and women handling scores of aircraft, carrying thousands of pounds of bombs and missiles, burning thousands of gallons of jet fuel a day, with margins measured in inches, and tolerances of seconds? What could possibly go wrong?
As a Prius-driving, granola-eating, anti-gun, Left-Coast Californian, I do not fit the stereotype of the typical armed forces booster. I am inclined to favor green technology over weapons of mass destruction. But I discovered during my visit that many of us who are working in non-military organizations, and who may not have given a second thought to the Navy as a model, would do well to understand how a small city floating on the ocean works. From startup entrepreneurs to seasoned executives, we can learn a lot from the U.S. Navy, from the enlisted men and women as well as from the commanding officers.
When we got to the Naval Air Station on Coronado Island in San Diego, we received a quick slide presentation before we flew off to the Nimitz, a hundred miles or so off the coast. Then again, when we met with the admiral on the ship that evening, we got another slide presentation. There were five or six dot points on the powerpoint slides outlining the mission of the Navy, but frankly I can’t remember them all. All I can remember is the impression that, fundamentally, the mission of the U.S. Navy is to make the world safe. It’s a pretty ambitious objective. You may approve or disapprove of this as the best use of taxpayer money, but if you spend any time on a nuclear aircraft carrier, you have to admit they do a pretty impressive job.
During about thirty hours of immersion with sailors and pilots (and public affairs officers), I realized that were several principles at work that make the Navy so successful—principles that are not at all unique to running an aircraft carrier—representing important lessons for everyone interested in entrepreneurship, innovation, teamwork, and management:
- Inspiration: Having a big, meaningful goal is a tremendous force for inspiration, motivation, and cohesion. The Navy’s mission is not some vague, abstract, feel-good paragraph in a business plan; it is very concrete, and very easy to understand and internalize. In addition to defending America, fighting terrorists, and rescuing victims of piracy, the Navy takes enormous pride in their role in helping the tsunami victims in 2004, and in helping the Katrina victims in 2005. While everyone I talked with had his or her own particular story, everyone had a distinct and powerful pride in what they had accomplished and in the people around them. It was frankly astounding. Even in the best organizations, in my experience, such a core consistency of pride is extremely rare. Of course, most organizations don’t have a mission as inspirational as the U.S. Navy.
- Perspiration: If everyone buys into the goal, you can get an amazing amount of work done, including regular sixteen hour days with very low pay. The Nimitz does not offer a 9-to-5 workday. Some days, crews are on the flight deck for fourteen or sixteen hours, into the wee hours of the morning, inhaling noxious fumes and making sure every plane gets back safely. And then after the planes get back at midnight, the maintenance crew is still at work making sure the planes are ready for the next day. A maintenance chief told me that, given the age of the planes and the stress of carrier flying, it is typical that a plane requires twenty-five hours of maintenance for every hour of flight time. That seems inefficient, but the alternative is unacceptable. You don’t want to fly a plane that is anything less than 100 percent maintained.
- Teamwork: As much as the movie Top Gun created the impression that it’s about competing to be Number 1, the ethic in an actual operating situation is intensely about team performance. Watching the crews maintain, fuel, setup, and pilot F-18s for flight, it’s clear it’s not about who’s the hottest dog on the deck. Every single person counts on other members of the team to enable them to get their part of the job done, and no one person can take credit for success, or benefit from another’s failure.
Let me know what you thought by leaving a comment.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
For those of you who couldn't make it to the last Vision Youth Network I thought I'd offer a brief summary of what I spoke on.
With the pace of ministry nowadays its easy for us to feel like hamsters running madly on a hamsters wheel... going nowhere. Ministry is unlike most jobs where you can see results in a fairly short space of time. Building into people takes time.
Unfortunately, with this long wait to see the fruit of our labour, we can veer off course and end up never seeing the fruit we have been working so hard for.
It is for this reason that we must ensure that we are headed in the right direction.
With this in mind I see 3 major issues that we seem to be unaware of in our ministry:
1) Biblical Illiteracy
2) Cultural / generational semantics
3) Orthodoxy needs Orthopraxy
1) Biblical Illiteracy
A Barna study showed that of Christians, only 3% of under 25yr olds and 9% of over 25yr olds have a Biblical world view as determined by the following 8 criteria:
a) Jesus Christ lived a sinless life.
b) That God is the all-powerful and all-knowing creator of the universe and He still rules it today.
c) Salvation is a free gift from God and cannot be earned.
d) Satan is real.
e) A Christian has a responsibility to share his / her faith in Christ with other people.
f) The Bible is accurate in all of the principals that it teaches.
g) Unchanging moral truth exists.
h) Moral truth is defined by the Bible.
2) Cultral / Generational Semantics
We live in an age of Truth Relavitism where there are no absolute truths. Truth is simply relative to some particular frame of reference. Hence we hear people say things like, '... that's true for you but not for me.'
So when you're communicating one thing your audience could be interpreting something different altogether!
Josh McDowell explains the difference in our younger generations semanitics compared to ours in the following chart which is from his book: The Last Christian Generation (pg22)
Accepting others without agreeing with or sharing their beliefs or lifestyle choices.
Accepting that each individual’s beliefs, values, lifestyles, and truth claims are equal.
Give due consideration to others beliefs and lifestyle choices without necessarily approving of them.
Wholehearted approving of others’ beliefs or lifestyle choices.
Embracing people for who they are, not necessarily for what they say or do.
Endorsing and even praising others for their beliefs and lifestyle choices.
Certain things are morally right and wrong as determined by God.
We have no right to judge another person’s view or behaviour.
Preferences of colour, food, clothing style, hobbies, etc. are personally determined.
Preferences of sexual behaviours, value systems, and beliefs are personally determined.
Everyone has the right to be treated justly under the law.
Everyone has the right to do what he or she believes is best for himself or herself.
Being free to do what you know you ought to do.
Being able to do anything you want to do.
An absolute standard of right and wrong.
Whatever is right for you.
3) Orthodoxy Needs Orthopraxy
While people may have a grip on orthodoxy (right beliefs) it seems that very few have a good orthopraxy (right acions).
Numerous stastics from Barna and other researchers indicate that there is a minute difference in lifestyles and behaviour of Christians!
Once again out of Josh McDowell's book (pg17) The Last Christian Generation, we see that while 91% of Christians and 90% of non-Christians were satisfied with their ethics and character, that 63% of Christians had physical hurt someone in the last 12 months when they were angered (this is compared to 67% of non-Christians.
74% of Christians cheated on a test as compared with 76% of non-Christians.
The list could go on...
This all paints a grim picure.
I in know way feel that I have a substancial grip on the solutions but let me give you some of my preliminary thoughts:
1) The reason we have Biblical Iliteracy is due to a lack of discipline. People are too lazy to read the Word of God. They prefer spoonfeeding through 5 min devotionals or listening to the latest podcast etc.
The fruit of the Holy Spirit is self-control / discipline. (Gal 5: 23)
We need to ask God to work the fruit of the Holy Spirit into our lives.
We also need a new standard by which to live. Mirroring the world can no longer be acceptable!
And with this we need higher levels of accountability.
2) We should not assume that the semantics we mean will be the semantics that our audiences interpret.
3) We need new success markers. No longer can orthodoxy be enough.
We need a new measurement of success as ministry leaders. Bums on seats doesn't cut-it!
We need to recognize and reward those who are truly walking out their orthopraxy.
Well that was a basic overview.
What are your thoughts on the above? I'd love you to leave a comment and share your thoughts with us. Lets journey together.
Godspeed & Kaizan
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Next friday is our next Vision Youth Network (which will be held at the Elim Church on Te Rapa from 2-4pm). I am really excited about sharing with you when we get together.
Then on the 5th June we have our 2nd ONE event... this is going to be massive! Spread the word!!!
Well lets get to the meat of this week's post... Michael Hyatt wrote a great post about the new generation leadership. I will give you the points, but click HERE to read his full post.
Therefore, if leaders are going to be effective with the current generation of Internet-savvy web-users, they must shift their leadership style. I call this Leadership 2.0. Here’s how it compares to Leadership 1.0:
- Leadership 2.0 embraces change.
- Leadership 2.0 demonstrates transparency.
- Leadership 2.0 celebrates dialogue.
- Leadership 2.0 employs collaboration.
- Leadership 2.0 practices sharing.
- Leadership 2.0 welcomes engagement.
- Leadership 2.0 builds community.
Click HERE to read the full post.
Leave a comment and lets get some conversation going.
Godspeed & Kaizan
Friday, May 8, 2009
So below I have found a good post for those of you wishing to increase your on-line community experience.
I found a great post via Twitter at the Viral Garden.
In the post we are given 6 reasons why no-one likes you on-line. I'll give you the headings and then give you the link to go and check the full post.
1 - You think monetization first
2 - Value creation? What's that?
3 - You are waiting for the community to come to you
4 - You don't give your members the ability or incentive to promote you to others
5 - You don't appreciate the people that are trying to help you
6 - You don't give a damn about the people you are trying to reach
If you'd like to read the full post then click HERE.
Let me know what you have learnt about on-line community and what you thought about the post at the Viral Garden.
Godspeed & Kaizan
Friday, May 1, 2009
What applications did you find for your communication and ministry?
Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.
I love the quote:
"It's a sin to make God / Bible boring."
We can all work on this. I suppose the greatest thing that gets in our way is carving out enough time and mental energy and make our communication and thinking top class.
I have read a really great article called Skimming. May you feel challenged and motivated to apply it...
Stop trying to look good, and do the dirty work beneath the surface.
Pete Scazzero | posted 20/3/2009
After twenty years as senior pastor, I finally had to admit I'd been "skimming" in my leadership. Skimming is the way many of us cope with multiple demands, constant pressure, and overloaded schedules. We cover a lot of ground superficially without being fully engaged. Like skimming a book, this can produce the impression that everything is covered, but in reality, you aren't completely there. How do you know you're skimming?
· When you go from meeting to meeting without awareness of God.
· When you say “yes” to new commitments and expansions without properly following through on what you are already doing.
· When it is Friday and you realise you have not had enough time to allow the truth of what you are preaching to transform your own walk with Christ.
· When you avoid difficult decisions and truths because someone will be upset.
· When you muddle your way through a meeting because you have not clearly determined your goals and agenda.
· When you make a pastoral phone call or visit – resentfully.
· When you cannot stop thinking about the unfinished work at church when you are with your family.
· When you are too busy to reflect on your own heart or cultivate your own personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
· When you are not investing in your own personal growth and marriage.
· When you measure your success based on what other people say rather than your own internal values before God.
Many times skimming is a "defensive mechanism" of denial that blocks us from growing up spiritually and emotionally. It's a way of avoiding aspects of ministry that stir up anxiety or pain. It can work for a while, but eventually it catches up with us, and there's a price to pay.
Here's how it caught up with me.
For years our church board, in their annual review of my role, asked how I enjoyed my position as senior pastor.
"I love preaching, teaching, casting vision, and discipling people," I replied. "But God just didn't gift me to do administration or run the organisation. It's frustrating."
For years I, along with our board, attempted to find ways to provide administrative leadership alongside my role as the visionary, senior leader. As our church grew, we tried different staff configurations, hiring from inside, hiring from outside, dividing the job between different people. Each time we hit a wall. Nothing seemed to work long-term.
I continued to avoid making personnel decisions or managing staff and key volunteers or writing job descriptions or taking time to plan for meetings or following through on project details.
During this 20-year period, I saw clearly what needed to be done, but I wanted someone else to do it.
"That's all administration," I told myself. "That's something that someone else should do. It's just not me."
In hindsight I can now see two factors that hindered me and led to this form of skimming.
I didn't trust myself. Throughout my ministry I had plenty of administrative failures. And I had mixed emotions about trying again. Plus, I was told by consultants, other pastors, even my wife: "You don't have those gifts, so play to your strengths and hire to your weaknesses. Spend your time in the Word and prayer. Let others run the day-to-day operation." This reinforced my mental block that I couldn't do it.
But the bigger factor was that I was a coward. Each time I saw what needed to be done, I found ways not to get into the nitty-gritty. Changes in leadership were needed. A few key people were not properly slotted. Others weren't doing their roles well. This was now having an increasing impact on the larger church.
I had made difficult decisions prior to this, but now I was skimming, trying to stay above the "administrative" issues that were bogging us down. Truth be told, I was afraid of being misunderstood, losing friendships, having people leave the church, halting our momentum.
I complained. I got angry. I blamed. I sulked.
But I did nothing.
Personal integrity, at last
A number of events finally converged to break me out of this gridlock. First, I reached a point of utter frustration. The inner workings of our staff were not reflecting the message I was preaching. I could no longer preach a way of life that our church leadership was not living.
Around this time, my wife, Geri, also spoke up: "Pete, I think the issue is courage, your courage. I'm not blaming you. It's hard to make the kind of changes needed. All I know is that you are in the position to do it, but you aren't. You are not enforcing our values of emotionally healthy spirituality with the staff. You're angry and resentful. We have a great church but …"
She paused and then dropped the bombshell.
"I think this is about you. You may not have whatever it takes to do what needs to be done. Maybe your time is up and someone else needs to step in and lead."
I was exposed. While her words hurt, I knew there was truth in them. I spent the next day alone with God and my journal.
Yes, I wanted someone else to come in and "get the house in order," to do the dirty work of hiring, firing, redirecting, and leading the church through the painful changes before us.
But it now was very clear. It was time to stop skimming, to stop trying to lead at a distance, to stop just casting vision and to take steps to implement it. I admitted the truth: the greatest deterrent to New Life Fellowship Church's becoming what God meant it to be was me.
I was skimming, staying safely above the "administrative" issues bogging us down.
Two weeks later I became the executive pastor, determined to learn the job. For the next year, I would serve under the senior pastor—me!
I cancelled speaking engagements outside New Life, said no to a potential book contract, and signed up for counselling to sort through my own "beneath the surface" iceberg blockages. I preached less, and we moved more deliberately to a teaching team.
Over the next year, I learned that the skills for doing the executive work of an organisation are not hard to learn. The real difficulty was making the time, thinking carefully "before the Lord," summoning the courage to have difficult conversations, and following all the way through. No longer skimming, I was now stepping into the messy, painful truth that would set both me and New Life free.
Skimming in other areas
As "not skimming" in my leadership became a major learning curve for me, I began to ponder how much skimming was happening in other areas of my life.
You can skim on your Christmas shopping and cleaning your car. You can skim on your social life, your email, and your reading list. But don't skim on what is most important.
I became very aware of my temptation to skim in the following four major areas, which had implications that were profound and far-reaching, both for myself and the people I served.
A Skimmed Relationship with God
Cultivating a life with our Lord Jesus requires large amounts of focused time. Days alone with God, hours of meditation on Scripture, and time for reading are indispensable. We are surrounded by endless distractions and voices that call us away from sitting at the feet of Jesus, like Mary did in Luke 10.
Throughout church history, one of the seven deadly sins is sloth (acedia, "not caring"), which was described not just as laziness, but as busyness with the wrong things. We are busy, the spiritual guides argued, because we cannot bear the effort demanded by a life of recollection and solitude with God; we do not care about the right things. There was no patience for activism, even godly activity, unless it was nourished by a rich interior life with God.
The Desert Fathers repeatedly warned about being engaged in activity for God before the time is ripe. They offer a timely warning to us.
So, in order to stop skimming on my relationship with God, I started building into my life monastic rhythms. For example, I began practicing the Daily Office as a way to structure my days. I began planning my day around three or four small blocks of time to stop, centre, read Scripture and be still. I also became ruthless about days of silence as indispensable elements of my vocation as a pastor.
It is an illusion to imagine that we can lead our people on a spiritual journey we have not taken. No program can substitute for the superficiality and self-will that inevitably permeate our ministry when we skim in our relationship with God.
Most of us are overscheduled and preoccupied; we are starved for time, exhausted from the endless needs around us. Who has time to enjoy Jesus, our spouses, our children, life itself?
We assume we'll catch up on our sleep some other time. The space we need for replenishing our soul and relaxing can happen later. Few of us have time for fun and hobbies. We don't have a life! There is simply too much work to be done for God.
Jesus models for us healthy self-care. With the weight of the world on his shoulders, we observe him resting and enjoying what others bring to him before going to the cross (John 12:1-8).
Bernard of Clairvaux, like Augustine before him, recognised that mature love does not exist without a healthy and God-centred self-love. Unless we know what it is to care for ourselves, we can't love others well. Only in light of the love of God can we love ourselves rightly. Bernard even argued that love of self for God's sake is the highest form of loving God.
This is a good word for leaders today as so many of us carry resentments for giving out beyond what God has asked. Unrelenting duty can destroy the joy of the Lord, which is our strength.
A key to our freedom is rediscovering Sabbath-keeping, a radical, countercultural spiritual formation practice. I accept God's invitation to stop, rest, delight, and contemplate him for a 24-hour period.
For me, this means stopping from Friday night at 7 p.m. to Saturday night at 7 p.m.—even if my sermon is not finished (Is it ever?). I stop all "have to's" and "shoulds." I avoid the computer, e-mails, and church related work. I spend the day on Friday doing my other work, such as cleaning the house, repairing the car, cleaning laundry, and paying bills.
The Sabbath calls us to build the doing of nothing into our schedules each week. It is, by the world's standards, inefficient, unproductive, and useless. Yet is one of the most fundamental elements given to us by God that we might take care of ourselves.
A Skimmed Marriage
Few people are willing to admit the sad state of many pastors' marriages. It would potentially disrupt, at least in the short term, some of our fastest-growing churches.
Our leadership and denominational conferences, along with our seminaries and schools, do not train us how to have marriages that taste of and point to heaven. We ignore the unique pressures of the ministry, mistakenly assuming that a great marriage will happen naturally if we work for God.
We forget the biblical principle: as goes the leader's marriage, so goes the church. If we're skimming at home, we're not going to be able to lead a healthy church family (1 Tim. 3:5). If you are married, your vocation is your spouse first, and any children God has given you. This covenant takes priority over our church and people.
Paul refers to the "one flesh" union of husband and wife as a foreshadowing of Christ's union with his bride, the church (Eph. 5:31-32). For this reason our marriage and sexuality are meant to proclaim and reflect our union with Christ. Our marriage is to be a picture, and an experience, of receiving and giving the love of God.
Who has time to invest in such a learning/growth journey?
Some pastors will say, "Pete, this would require I change the entire way I do ministry?" Yes. It certainly did for me. Geri and I made a commitment that investing in our marriage was the highest priority of our lives after Christ. Our calendar began to reflect that change. We carved out exclusive, uninterrupted time each day and week to be fully present with one another. And we began regular overnights to nearby bed and breakfasts for getaways.
Of course, the temptation to skim on our marriage remains. But as our theology of marriage as a vocation, as a specific call and mission from God, has deepened over the years, the temptation has weakened.
A Skimming Leader
Part of the reason I skimmed on my leadership is that I divided the secular and sacred, treating the executive/planning functions of pastoral leadership as less meaningful and holy than prayer and Bible study.
For years I preferred to do the easy things, not the necessary things. I don't enjoy conflict and tension. Who does?
When I stopped skimming, I began to see how much of my life was driven by external validation, other people telling me I was okay. Volunteers and staff didn't move toward me after difficult conversations about their performance. They distanced themselves from me.
I sometimes avoided meetings I knew would be hard. I skimmed on "truth" when it was uncomfortable. I preferred to not speak up when something was wrong.
It is easier to rush into a staff meeting without spending the time needed to get clear on our goals and agenda.
It is easier to be reactive than to be thoughtful and prayerful. More of my decisions than I care to admit were based on feelings and impulse. It is hard to provide prudent leadership.
It is easy to say one thing and do another. It's hard to follow through on my commitments.
It is easy to engage in false peace by appeasing people. It's hard to speak truth when they may become angry.
It is easy to justify our spin and exaggeration as vision. It's hard to combine faith and hard facts.
We need to remember our goal—people's transformation into the likeness of Christ. Loving people does not mean keeping them happy. Jesus models for us that hurting people is often part of helping them mature.
And remember: leadership that does not skim sets us and our people free—even if it is painful at first.
This post was way longer than usual... but if you've made it all the way through... I'm sure you found it was worth it!
Don't forget to leave a comment.
Godspeed & Kaizan
Thursday, April 23, 2009
I love this... Click HERE to check out cleaver little notes that are creating a stir in Melbourne.
Here's a taster: