Leaving Parish Ministry

For the last fifteen years I have served in a variety of parish based ministry positions in Mainline Protestant congregations ranging in size from a few hundred to a few thousand.  My job titles have included Director of Ministries with Children and Families Youth Director (and Youth Minister) Associate Pastor Interim Senior Pastor Transitional Pastor Director of Education (and Director of Adult Education). The job title I have held the greatest number of times is Director of Read More …

Leaders Clear Obstacles

Dave Odom, Executive Director of Leadership Education at Duke Divinity School, recently explained an important yet often underdeveloped and under-appreciated aspect of leadership: clearing obstacles.  After leaders set vision and motivate people to move toward that vision, they must also be intentional about assisting people in moving forward by removing or helping to remove obstacles that emerge in their paths. Odom explains: In my experience, the senior management of larger organizations Read More …

Effective Leaders Ask for Feedback

Over the years I have encountered people in functional leadership roles who discouraged feedback, those who tolerated feedback, and others who welcomed and valued feedback to such a degree they were intentional about seeking it from a wide variety of constituents on a regular basis.  Unfortunately I have had both bosses and mentors suggest that while there is a role for feedback it should be limited as excessive requests suggest that one lacks vision and the drive needed to move oneself and Read More …

Prioritizing Innovation

Sustained innovation doesn't happen by accident in an organization.  Unfortunately, I have encountered more than a few people for whom the phrase innovative congregations/churches was an oxymoron.  For many in the mainline the phrase is one that doesn't connect to current or prior experiences in church life. While a younger congregation (one established more recently) is more likely to be innovative because of where it is within the organizational life cycle, churches of all ages (as well as Read More …

Ministry: More or Better?

Seth Godin is the author of seventeen books that have been bestsellers around the world and changed the way people think about marketing, change, and work.  In this five minute video, he suggests that our cultural preference for more being better is unwise and often simply not true. So What? In most congregations, plans are now well underway for constructing ministry and mission for 2015.  What should be done (including and often especially how much more than the prior year) is often a Read More …

Hidden Church Asssets

Margaret Marcuson speaks and writes on leadership and works with church leaders nationally as a consultant and coach.  Earlier this month, she blogged about three categories of assets found in all churches that are often undervalued or overlooked: human capital, intellectual capital, and financial capital. So What? Often congregations focus on financial capital, and assume they know all there is to know about their resources in this arena.  Marcuson encourages congregations to look Read More …

Ways to Engage Volunteers

I have been in more than a few meetings this year when someone at the table said "people don't volunteer like they used to" or "we just don't have enough volunteers."  Churches should be about helping every member (as well as every active participant!) be engaged in ministry.  Creating a congregational culture that promotes volunteerism doesn't happen by chance. Phil Bowdle, creative arts director at West Ridge Church (Atlanta, GA), recently shared four ways his congregation improved their Read More …

Maintenance vs. Mission

Jennifer Thomas, an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Vice President of Missouri Faith Voices, recently blogged about the challenges pastors face when seeking to help congregations transition from a maintenance mentality to one focused on mission.  Regrettably, seminary didn’t prepare me for the backlash I would receive as a missional leader in a congregation. Some folks prefer a maintenance model of ministry, where the pastor is called primarily to care for Read More …

Successful People

Eric Barker, the founder of the Barking Up The Wrong Tree blog, recently shared what he believes the world's most successful people have in common.  He suggests that we can become like them if we: Stay Busy Just Say No Know What You Are Build Networks Create Good Luck Have Grit Make Awesome Mistakes Find Mentors. So What? I love this list!  I would not argue that a single item should be removed. I do, however, think that some organizations (including churches and other Read More …

Starting Well

On his first day as the CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella sent an e-mail to all employees that asked and answered several key questions: Who am I? Why am I here? Why are we here? What do we do next? So What? Starting well is essential whether leading a multi-billion dollar business, a congregation, or a team/group/committee.   Nadella's questions are ones that church leaders need to address.  While doing so on the first day of a new position may not always be possible, doing so Read More …