Tag Archives: leadership

The Importance of Technological Competency for Leaders

dj-865173_1280I’ll admit. I’m a bit biased as I have a natural bent toward technology and gadgets. For the most part, they have served me well and an overall knowledge of what is possible through the use of technology for communicating with excellence as well as culturally engaging ways, has proved to be a useful leverage for my ministry. But this post is not about me, but the benefits that this knowledge has brought me over the years. I would love to share a few thoughts with you, that whether technology is your natural bent or not, on how a better knowledge of it can serve you and your team better. The truth is, while many of us may not be “techies”, technology itself is not going away. In a very real sense (good or bad–that’s another post entirely), it has become the language in which the world speaks.

It helps you connect with your staff and volunteers

One thing a decent overall view of technology will help you do is communicate better with your tech staff and/or volunteers and help you speak their language. They live in a world that the evangelical church for the most part is still struggling to understand, and as a result, they often feel misunderstood and underappreciated. Having at least a cursory sense of what their responsibilities entail and knowing how to communicate reasonable expectations to them, can make a world of difference in your church culture and the practical outcomes that you experience each week. People who feel understood and appreciated will work exponentially more effectively than those who do not. And the truth is, it’s difficult for them to feel truly appreciated if they believe you have no idea what they actually do. By speaking their language, you open up a door to deeper relationships and increased productivity from those who are so vital to the effectiveness of your ministry.

It helps you set reasonable expectations

When a leader has very little concept of what is entailed in a creative project, it becomes very easy to set unreasonable expectations and/or get less than stellar results. Your tech and creative staff by nature are often “people pleasers” in that they truly want to please those whom they serve. Because of this, they will often not communicate how they feel about your expectations even when they know they are unreasonable. The result is often either burned out staff and volunteers (at best), loss of morale in the overall creative culture, or disastrous and less-than-desirable results, or all of the above. When you have a general understanding of what is entailed in technology and creative projects, you will set better expectations for your volunteers and staff as well as get more consistent, quality results. I believe you would agree that our people and our ministries are worth it.

It helps you save resources

In many church cultures, the attitude is often that “technology costs money, therefore we don’t value it, because we can’t afford it.” The truth is actually often quite the opposite. A well known financial radio host often says “Never spend more than $300 on something you don’t fully understand.” This is great advice. However, as with much technological advancements, when fully understood, what costs you $300 could save you thousands or more over the long run.

There are many things in life that technology, no matter how advanced can never replace–mainly meaningful human interaction. However, I’ve seen so many processes in churches that don’t increase the value of human interaction but are human resource intensive or costly that otherwise could be simplified and streamlined through the use of technology. Why would I take good people away from meaningful ministry with others to perform dull, monotonous tasks that a computer and some relatively inexpensive software could leverage at far less personnel costs or the sacrifice of meaningful ministry interaction. Yeah, I wouldn’t and you wouldn’t either. But we don’t know what we don’t know. As a leader it’s important to seek out input from our staff, volunteers and those outside our church walls to gain exposure to ways we can make our ministries more effective by helping people to do what only people can do–make more and better disciples of Jesus. Let people do what only people can do and let’s leverage other avenues for accomplishing some necessary, but less important tasks.

It helps you ask better questions

When you have an understanding of the technological options available and what is possible through those, it helps you ask better questions of your team. While creatives and technical staff seem to often want to color outside the lines, the truth is, most of the time they need (and want) boundaries. Yes, they hate to be micromanaged, but they also enjoy the freedom of working freely within well-defined expectations. When you know what is possible, you are free to ask the questions of your team that they love to hear. One of the greatest questions I’ve learned to ask in creative meetings is “How might we (fill in the blank)?”. I usually don’t ask the question without having a few ideas of my own to help prime the pump, but I also realize that rarely are my ideas the best ideas in the room. Having a general understanding of what is possible through technological means, can help your team enjoy more creativity and achieve better results.

Here are some resources that you might find helpful in gaining a greater understanding of how to better leverage technology for ministry:

I’m glad that at BBC, where I serve as faculty, we are addressing this through more focussed classes on technology in church music and ministry. If you haven’t had an opportunity, click the link above and see if www.gobbc.edu could be right for you. Several online opportunities are available as well.

What would you add to this list? What are some ways in which technology has hurt or helped your ministry?

Continuum: Engaging All Generations

LCI_2014Mount Pisgah is excited to be hosting the Continuum (LCI 2014) Conference on April 28 – 30, 2014. LCI (Large Church Initiative) is an assembly of church leaders and guests from around the nation who lead some of the largest and most influential churches in Methodism in an effort to share ideas and best practices as well as encourage and inspire one another in their respective ministries and callings. It has been my honor to serve on the steering committee of this great conference and carry on the tradition of equipping the next generation of leaders for Christ’s kingdom.

This year will feature keynote addresses from some of the most influential and innovative speakers and writers today. Among these are Mark Batterson, Chip Ingram, Jorge Acevedo, Steve Wood (my pastor), Sharma Lewis and Tim Tennent!  The music and corporate worship times are sure to be inspiring as we are led in worship by Natalie Grant, Jason Ingram and One Sonic Society, the Nelons and the 150 voice Mount Pisgah Worship Choir. We are really excited about the worship and songwriting round table luncheon that we will host with Jason Ingram, Natalie Grant, Jason Clark and more!  This will be a great time for worship leaders to get inside the hearts and minds of some of the leading songwriters of our generation. The conference will be a great time for pastors, their staff and key lay leaders to get refueled and equipped for maximum kingdom impact.

Mount Pisgah is rolling out the red carpet and hundreds of volunteers are already in preparation to make your experience at Mount Pisgah, LCI 2014 and the Atlanta area one that you will not quickly forget. We can’t wait to see you soon!

For more information and to register go to www.LCI2014.com.

The Importance of Vision for Creatives

visionIf you are a pastor, you know that pastoring creative people can be a challenging task all on its own. Hiring them on your staff can be a journey to a whole new level of joy, frustration, and bewilderment, often all at the same time. This week I had the privilege of sharing in our team’s vision for a couple of days of off-site planning and strategy development. Being a “creative” and a leader of other “creatives”, I would like to share with you a couple of take-a-ways from this time. I am blessed to work with a great pastor who has an incredible vision for the lives of our people and for those in our community. Here are a few of my take-a-ways as it relates to the importance of vision to the creative people that you lead.

First of all, for fear of stating the obvious, vision provides direction to your team. Being able to see clearly what your church is all about, and what your team is trying to accomplish, helps keep the “big picture” in mind. This may seem obvious to most “type A” leaders (they would never think of doing anything without purpose, right?), but the creative people on your team will create, often just because they can. While creative people will often justify this attitude by claiming they serve the same God that created the platypus (and what purpose does it have?), they are freed to be more valuable to the team when they have purpose and direction to aim their creativity. While there is room in the Christian life for creativity for it’s own sake (when done with a pure heart as an act of worship toward God–it seems that God did), we will have more value to everyone in our world when we have direction and purpose for our creativity.

When most of us think of vision, we think of concepts like “out of the box”, “liberating”, and “defying the odds”.  Vision can definitely be associated with all of these things, but one of the areas that is probably most crucial to the success that vision can provide is the idea of boundaries. This may seem counterintuitive, but without them, most ideas remain just that–ideas. Ideas by themselves benefit no one until they are shared and put into action. Boundaries help us clarify what is really important and what resources should get the most priority. The fact that many of us usually cringe when we hear this word, we usually realize that we need them. While it may be fun to day dream about what we might do if money, time, and people were not a limiter on our ideas, the bottom line is–they are. None of us have unlimited time, money, or human resources. Vision helps us shape the boundaries that are necessary to put the best ideas into action.

Focus is crucial to the success of any worthwhile project. For me, this is probably the most difficult obstacle to overcome. My wife keeps insisting that I be treated for adult ADD. While I do admit that my mind can run in a million different directions at the same time, it seems that clear vision can help me focus in ways that no medication could. When we keep the main thing, the main thing, it is much easier to remain focused even when our pursuits seem derailed. When you are sure of your destination it is a lot easier to take the “quit” out of your vocabulary.

Having vision and direction to aim creative pursuits is an incredibly freeing experience. While using words like direction, boundaries, and focus, may sound nothing like the freedom of flying freely through the forest of our dreams,  for most of us, it is much easier to approach the “blank canvas” of our art when we have a clear vision of how we can benefit the team. A clear-cut vision can truly give wings to your creativity. One of the ways it does this is by refueling the sense of purpose that all of us have inside (whether creative or not). Like in aerodynamics, it takes several distinct forces acting in harmony to produce flight. Any of the necessary forces (gravity, lift, drag, etc.), when by themselves, can be dangerous, limiting, or worthless, at best. Clear vision can act like the heading and lift that not only makes flight possible, but worth doing at all. People are much more productive when they know that they matter to the team. Clear vision will give your creative team wings to be able to fly to the future of changed lives–both theirs and everyone they touch and inspire.

Exposure, Experience and (ah…) Vacation.

I am writing this sitting on the Gulf Coast of Alabama at Orange Beach. (I know, I live in Florida but am vacationing in Alabama…what’s up with that??? It’s a long story, but we’re here with some good friends). I have had the time to think, process, and simply relax. It has been so timely and Randi and I have enjoyed the time away. This has also given me the opportunity to “catch up” on a few things that I’ve wanted to do for several weeks/months.

I am often asked for the resources and materials that we use at Trinity to aid and influence our corporate worship. Here I hope that you will find this site both informational and inspiring. You will notice that to the right there are links to several resources that we use regularly. I’ve also included some posts from another blog site that I have posted several weeks/months ago that are relevant to this site. These resources, hopefully, will be helpful to you whether you find yourself in a new church plant or in an existing meg-church or somewhere in between.

One of the greatest lessons that I have learned is that there is nothing new “under the sun” (if it was true for Solomon several thousand years ago, I’m sure it’s true for me). Chances are, if I need it, someone else has as well. Usually someone a lot more intelligent and experienced than myself has already come up with a solution to my problem long before I was even aware I had one.

I hope you will find these resources helpful to your ministry. If you have any that you would recommend, please send them my way. I’m always looking for new  ideas and resources to help our congregation experience God corporately in a fresh way.

I’ve found that there are two vital elements to successful leadership: 1) Exposure and 2) Experience. I hope that this site will be informative enough to help expose all of us to new ideas as well as inspirational enough to motivate us to use them. Without exposure we simply are bound to the hamster wheel of what we already know (which usually isn’t much). I’ve met people in ministry for 30 years who have claimed to have 30 years experience. Often, I have found that they have had one year of experience repeated 29 times.

With exposure, we have the ability to experience and process new ideas as they relate to ministry. However, it is actually getting out there and using these ideas that gives us the experience and fortitude to be effective. Otherwise, we become highly theoretical and idealistic with little to show for it.

I’ll close with this quote that I came across the other day “We must think like a man of action and act like a man of thought.” (even though the author, Henri Bergson, was not a believer, I believe this is a truism–see James chapter two and the entire book of Acts).  If we will be diligent in both our thinking and our actions, we can change this world for Christ.

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