Expand! (Why You Should Have Initiatives)

We’ve rolled out our Restore 2012/2013 ministry year initiatives. We’re calling it ‘Expand.’

Expand consists of three elements or themes:

  • Expand Love: Growing in our love for God and others.
  • Expand Leadership: Clarifying the leadership pipeline, adding resources for leaders; training them.
  • Expand Locations: We’re moving from 2 to 3 locations and planting a church internationally.

We brought our leaders into the conversation at our last Leadership Community. We started a series around these initiates last week. When we’re done we hope everyone at Restore will know about them.

What about your church plant? Do you incorporate initiatives into your planning? If you don’t, may I encourage you to do so. Some of the benefits include:

  • Initiatives provide us direction and focus for the year. We build specific goals and desired outcomes around each of them.
  • Initiatives help us maintain momentum of mission. While the vision and values of Restore do not change, God does call us to lean into specific areas for a season. I think this gives us missional lift.
  • Initiatives add variety to the missional expression of Restore.
  • Initiatives help us remain responsive to God. We want to be spirit led and initiatives provide us that framework.

Do you have some sort of ministry initiatives? Do you see them as a distraction? I’d love to hear from you.

Some Things You Need to Know About Consistency

I am getting stuff done. I am hammering out the details of some major projects at Restore and in my life. It’s good. But it isn’t always like this.

I am wired to be inconsistent. This is surprising to many people. I am the task guy; to-do lists make me happy. But I am easily distracted and quickly bored. I like variety. I don’t like routine. This makes me inconsistent. Sure, I can an be consistent in anything for a day or two. But any longer is a problem.

Consistency is essential for the church planter. Consistency in the way I am talking about it means reliable and uniform successive results over a period of time. Planting a church requires consistency in many areas: leadership, team building, relationship building etc. And yet, so many planters I know struggle to remain consistent.

And yet, Jesus said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Whatever we are called to do on behalf of Jesus and His kingdom we must do daily.

Some things that might help you be more consistent:

  • Challenge yourself to become a finisher not a starter. Easier said then done. But it’s true.
  • Choose sustainability over speed. My tendency is to go fast. I’ve had to learn to hit the brakes.
  • Work everyday. Sounds easy and obvious. To be consistent you need to work hard everyday.
  • Build it into your routine. Whatever area of your life you want to be more consistent simply make it part of your routine.

The RED X technique is helping me. Grab a calendar and put an RED X through every day you execute these things in whatever area of your life you’re trying to be consistent.  For example: One of the reasons I am starting this new blog is because I want to be consistent as a writer. I printed a calendar and simply put a Red X through everyday I write for my blog. It’s simple but effective.

What’s it gonna look like for you to be a more consistent?

How Do You Deal with Disappointment?

The dictionary defines disappointment as the feeling of dissatisfaction that follows the failure of expectations or hopes to manifest themselves.

And the fact is that disappointment is inevitable in church planting. People will let you down. You will let down people. Things will get screwed up. Plans will go awry.

So how do you deal with disappointment? Do you take it out on the people around you? Do you withdraw? Do you let your responsibilities  go? Do you let it consume you? All of these are negative responses.

I am learning that disappointment is connected to unrealistic expectations. Someone once told me that unrealistic expectations is the chief reason many plants fail.

The first question I ask myself when I am disappointed is: was my expectation of outcome realistic? If it wasn’t, there’s nothing to be disappointed about. But if the expected outcome was realistic then disappointment is a natural response. And I am learning that the only way for me to really deal with my disappointment is to give them to God in prayer.

What about you?

How Do You Know if You’re Succeeding?

Let’s just assume God has called you to plant a church, a missional community, go multi-site or whatever. What are the key metrics you should track in order to know if what you start is succeeding?

I know some of you would tell me: we don’t need no stinkn’ metrics.” You would tell me metrics are the stuff of attractionalism and this is precisely what’s killing the church. That attractionalism has killed the church I would agree. (That will be the topic of other posts so stay tuned.)  But the fact is if your church planting or trying to start a missional community then you have a social enterprise underway. Social enterprises have a purpose. In order to know if our social enterprise is hitting the purpose to which it was created we ought to track some things about it. This holds true for gangs and churches.

Numbers help tell your story. While they must never become the point, understanding them helps you better understand your organizations. But what should we track? Here’s what I believe are essential:

  • Headcount. Otherwise known as attendance. What’s the difference between a church of 100 and a church of 500. Lots I think. And it come down to momentum and energy at our gatherings. People want to be part of something big. So yes, in this case bigger works. Track your gathering numbers.
  • Generosity. Like it or not if you have vocational ministers and you meet in a public space you’re going to need money to make it happen. You ought to measure and track weekly giving. We like to use per capita giving as an additional measure.
  • Leadership development. In our reproducing culture tracking the number of coaches, leaders and apprentices.
  • Service projects. How many people are engaged in serving the community and how frequently. While sometime difficult to measure, tracking the key events and attendance provides you a sense of how many people are seeing themselves as assets to your community.
  • Small group participation. We believe that small groups are a great place for life transformation. We track number of people regularly attending our groups.
  • Baptisms. Yes, baptisms but with a twist. While we count baptisms we also track staff vs. non-staff baptizers. The more non-staff people we have baptizing people, the better.
  • Church plants. We track both the people and dollars we send out to help plant new churches.

I contend you can tell a lot about your church if you measure these dynamics.

What about you? What key metrics are you tracking?

5 Things to Help Equip and Encourage Volunteers

Five things to help equip and encourage volunteers:

  1. Make the ask personal. When you have an opportunity to share, make the ask in person. People respond well to personal invitations.
  2. Meet with your volunteers. Invite them to coffee or treat them to lunch just to hear about their lives and how you might pray for them.
  3. Show your appreciation. Tell them you appreciate their contributions in writing.  For instance, you might Challenge yourself to write three thank you notes every week. You can use the time you’re writing to pray for your volunteers.
  4. Celebrate volunteers. Celebrate volunteers publicly whenever possible.
  5. Volunteering happens in seasons. Understand that people serve in seasons. Life happens and people come and go. You must build this fact into the rhythm of your serving culture.

What are some things you do to help encourage and equip volunteers?