Practical Stuff for Church Leaders

Friday Finds - Pastors Being Great Bosses and Church "Meet & Greet" Time

It's already that time again - I'm gearing up to meet this spring's group in my Executive Pastor Coaching Network, which begins next week. It's going to be a great week of sharing, listening, coaching, learning, and sharpening one another. With that in mind, I've been extra focused this week on being prepared for the 18 leaders who will be joining us. (We also celebrated our team at Vanderbloemen being named #5 Top Company Culture in the nation by Entrepreneur.com - I'm grateful to work on a team with such a passion for serving the kingdom.)

Here are some articles to help you be a better leader this week:

3 Things You Can Always Do As A Leader by Taylor Snodgrass via Get4Sight.com

I've seen it in myself and I've seen it in other leaders I've mentored. "I can't do that," "I'm not good at that," "I don't have time," or "That's not my department." But, as Taylor Snodgrass wisely points out, "To be a strong and trustworthy leader, I can’t pass the buck. If I’m to be a leader worth following, then I need to come to the table with more than, 'I can’t.'" Taylor isn't just smart because he married my daughter (although, let's face it, that was a great decision). He also writes well and shares some tremendous insight in this quick-to-read article. 

Ten Ways Pastors Can Be Great Bosses by Thom Rainer via ThomRainer.com

Of all the things pastors are taught in seminary, how to be a great boss isn't usually something that's focused on. But it's so important that church leaders strive to be the best bosses they can be - what better kingdom witness than to seek to serve those on your church staff? A lot of these ten ideas that Dr. Rainer lists have to do with creating a great staff culture - a subject we love on the Vanderbloemen team.

What Happened When I Spent A Day With God by Chris Brown via Stewardship.com

Chris Brown, a member of Dave Ramsey team and host of the True Stewardship podcast, is a good friend of the Vanderbloemen team. He describes what so many leaders feel when we allow ourselves to get too busy - he even points out that extreme busyness is unbiblical. Read on...

Should Your Church Get Rid Of Your "Meet & Greet" Time? with David Fantin [Podcast] via Vanderbloemen.com

This podcast has sparked a lot of dynamic conversations and questions this week. Yes, churches need to be intentional about greeting and welcoming visitors. BUT is the one-minute-stand-and-greet-your-neighbors time the most effective way to do that? My colleague David Fantin brings up some interesting questions based on his time of visiting different churches and seeing how they welcome guests.

What are you reading this week? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday Finds - Time Management, Benefits of Inflexibility, & Better Preaching

This week, I had the honor of meeting with the leaders of Scottsdale Bible Church in Phoenix to present them with candidates for their next Student Pastor. I'm always incredibly honored to play a part in such a holy crossroads in a church's life. The week prior, I met with LifePoint Church near Nashville--which meant I was able to stop by and spend time with my oldest daughter and her husband (and, of course, their new puppy). And last week, I was able to spend a weekend away celebrating my wife's birthday. I'm blessed to have time to spend with family despite a busy schedule.

We've pulled some articles to encourage you this week:

Time Management For The Time-Challenged by Kristi Hedges via Forbes

I always encourage my team to manage their time wisely and tell me when they are overloaded. But as much as I encourage time-management, it's up to each individual to steward their time. This insight from Kristi Hedges is extremely practical and applicable for every personality, no matter how unorganized you think you are. This is especially helpful for pastors, who are notorious for saying "yes" to too many things.

Why Teams Don't Play Up To Their Potential by Paul Alexander via TonyMorganLive.com

Do you ever feel like your staff is full of talented people yet it's not quite performing to its full potential? Every team has been there (or will be there). Paul Alexander wisely points out the various reasons why your team isn't quite dialed in yet. Keep this article in mind when you're hiring a new team member as well. Hiring a "rockstar" who isn't a team player will upset the cohesion of your team.

The Surprising Benefit Of Being Inflexible by Michael Hyatt via MichaelHyatt.com

One of the core values we have at Vanderbloemen is "Ever-Increasing Agility," and we pride ourselves on being a flexible, agile team. But don't take this article as face-value. What Hyatt is talking about is that kind of flexibility where we allow ourselves to bend on our goals or our boundaries. As he wisely points out, some of our priorities need to be "no exceptions." Read on...

How Lead Pastors Can Improve Their Teaching Team by David Whiting via Vanderbloemen.com

My colleague and friend David has such great advice for Senior Pastors (shameless plug: he's also hosting a Lead Pastor Coaching Network this fall). One of the best things that Pastors can do is build up a strong teaching team around them, so they are not having to preach more than 40 or so weekends a year. Follow these steps from David to make sure you never have to worry about your other teachers being unprepared or inexperienced.

What are you reading this week? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday Finds - Self-Awareness, Truth Telling, & Limiting Beliefs

Last week, a group of my colleagues at Vanderbloemen took the Enneagram personality assessment. Our team tends to enjoy discussing personality theory and studying how we communicate with one another and what makes us "tick" (and honestly, it's one of the reasons we're such a cohesive team). But what really struck me is the focus on self-awareness and self-leadership that such assessments encourage. And today's Friday Finds reflect that.

I'm hoping these articles can help and encourage you this week:

The Power Of Truth Telling At Work by Skip Prichard via SkipPrichard.com

One of the personality areas that my friends kept comparing and chuckling about was one another's tendency toward embracing or avoiding confrontation. But even for those who don't shy away from confrontation, speaking the total truth in your workplace is tough. We fear the consequences of being totally honest. Especially on a church staff, we want to be liked. Read this interview between Skip Prichard and Mindy Mackenzie, author of The Courage Solution: The Power of Truth Telling with Your Boss, Peers, and Team.

Leadership Is About Emotion by Meghan M. Biro via Forbes

What are the qualities of a truly outstanding leader, one that inspires you at a gut-level? I'll give you a hint: I already discussed two of them - self-awareness & honesty. Read this great article by Meghan Biro to discover the other traits that great leaders need to inspire their team.

5 Hurdles Every Executive Pastor Has To Get Over by Kevin Lloyd via LeadBravely.org

My friend Kevin Lloyd also touches on truth-telling in this insightful post. It's all too easy for XPs to "soft pedal" the truth to their Senior Pastors. But as I wrote here, speaking truth to power is a necessary skill to cultivate in leadership. Kevin also touches on our tendency to be too high-control - another personality trait that had my teammates chuckling as they read their Enneagram results to one another.

What Story Are You Telling Yourself? by Michael Hyatt via MichaelHyatt.com

This article is subtitled, "Overcome Limiting Beliefs with These 5 Steps," and it's pure gold. One of my colleagues read that her Enneagram type has an especially harsh & constant voice of criticism inside her head, and her response was, "Wait - everyone else doesn't have that same voice all the time??" The reality is that many of us struggle with self-limiting beliefs, a voice in our heads that tells us what we're not good at. But what if you got good at tuning it out or re-writing the narrative? Don't miss this Michael Hyatt awesomeness.

What are you reading this week? Let me know in the comments below.

Hey, Executive Pastor: 5 Things Your Senior Pastor Needs from You

Last week, I wrote about the 5 things that every Executive Pastor needs from his or her Senior Pastor. As I mentioned, this is a very delicate relationship. If a local church is going to thrive, this is the most important relationship on the staff, and it must be strong and healthy.

I had the privilege to work for two decades for an amazing leader from whom I learned so much. He trusted me with high-level leadership way before I was ready and supported me nearly every step of the way. I had the opportunity to craft my role and grow into it as the church grew around us. In our 20 years together, we saw the church double, then double again, and then double two more times. We went from 6 staff members to 129 on our team. When we started working together, we owned no buildings or property, but that quickly grew to two sites, more than 60 acres, and 150,000 SF in buildings. It was all new for both of us. At every step of the way, neither of us had ever led at that level before. What a tremendous learning experience!

For the past 9 years, I’ve had the privilege to coach more than 150 leaders who sit in the #2 chair and fill the role of Executive Pastor. Every semester, I join with 16 leaders and get to learn from them as we study together what it means to be an Executive Pastor.

(Click here to read more about the Executive Pastor Coaching Network that I'll be leading this spring and the Lead Pastor Coaching Network led by my colleague, David Whiting.)

It is from my 20 years in the #2 chair, and my many years of coaching leaders, that I offer this list of 5 things every Senior Pastor needs from his or her Executive Pastor:

1.       Strategic Judgment. If you don’t have this, your Senior Pastor feels compelled to step back in and begin to run things again. That typically isn’t best for them or for the church. If you don’t naturally think strategically or organizationally, then get some training and some people around you who naturally think that way. Many Senior Pastors have dreams of where the church should go, but need a strategic mind to help figure out how to get there.

2.       Competence. Someone must have their finger on the pulse of how the church is doing with finances, facilities, legal issues, and HR issues—and that is often the Executive Pastor. You must know enough to be able to speak with great clarity and confidence about the health of the church and any threats that exist. Your Senior Pastor needs you to be up-to-speed on these issues.

3.       Someone to process. There are times when the Lead Pastor need to verbally process what is going on in their head. This is tricky, because you will be tempted to talk about how impossible it is because of money or staff limitations. But you should give them space to dream. Where else can they do this safely if not with you?

4.       Buffer. This is a delicate one, because your Senior Pastor may not know he or she needs it — but they need you to be a buffer. Their energy about the typo in the bulletin or fingerprints on the glass windows will not be helpful if shared in the moment. You need to be able to absorb this energy and then tackle the systems or offer appropriate correction to the people who can fix it long-term. Your Senior Pastor needs to focus on message preparation and overall vision, and not be burdened with the daily decisions of running the church. In the best situations, the Lead Pastor leads the church, and the Executive Pastor runs the church.

5.       Speak truth to power. Most Senior Pastors have very few people who tell them the truth. You may have heard it said, “The last time you heard the truth about what was happening in the organization was the first day you became CEO.” That is true for Lead Pastors as well. But they need someone next to them who will graciously and with wise timing say what is true. Do this sparingly — it is an amazing gift that very few others are in the position to offer.

I am sure this list is not exhaustive. I’d love to hear from your experience about what else every Senior Pastor needs from his or her executive leader.

Credit: Doug Slaybaugh was an Executive Pastor at Saddleback Church for many years. Now he spends his time with the Paterson Center helping leaders focus on what is important in their churches and in their personal lives. We recently spent some time together talking about the critical nature of the relationship between the senior pastor and executive pastor. It is from that conversation that I wrote this article.