I am always trying to come up with ways to make my efficient use of my time and I’ve recently found a great tool to help me. It’s called Nozbe- a project and task management program. I was turned on to Nozbe by Michael Hyatt…if you don’t follow Michael, you should (michaelhyatt.com). Nozbe is a software program that is cloud-based. You can download the app for your smart phone or tablet and it will sync with your computer.
Here’s why I like Nozbe- it is the most flexible and helpful project and task management program I have ever used. Not only have I used almost everything out there, I’ve even created my own. Nozbe beats them all- hands down. It offers the flexibility of viewing tasks or projects by calendar due date, category (you create your own), even by priority. It works with Evernote and Dropbox.
Nozbe has a free version so there is no cost to try it out. If you do a business plan, your team can use Nozbe for projects that have different tasks assigned to different team members. They also do nonprofit pricing so you can receive a discount for your church or other organization.
The value of task and project management software is that you will be on top of what needs to be done, rather than trying to play catch up.
1. How could a task and project management program help you out?
2. What are you using now to stay of top of what needs to be done?
Proximity is a way of measuring the closeness of key relationships on your life. Generally speaking, the closer you are to someone the more likely that person is going to influence your life. That influence speaks of their proximity to you.
A number of factors determine proximity but these are some of the more important ones:
- Friendship factor. Close friends have more influence than mere acquaintances.
- Occupational factor. People in the same occupation as you are going to have greater influence than people in other occupations.
- Agreement factor. When you agree with a person’s approach towards an occupation or his or her philosophy of life, that person has proximity to you.
I pastor a church in San Diego that meets in several different locations throughout the city (This is called a multi-site church). My southern California friends who have a similar approach to ministry and also pastor multi-site churches in my denomination have great proximity and thus influence on my life.
Here’s the problem with proximity: Colleagues you both know well and agree with do not provide you with enough diversity to grow and develop. You need outside voices speaking into your life.
That is why you need to be intentional about seeking out new influencers. Here are some suggestions:
- Read outside your proximity. Books and blogs are two great places to expand your perspective. Do a little research and find out what others are reading and whom they are following. Then you can be the one turning your friends on to new resources in the future. By the way- if someone mentions a book to me I almost always try to make a note of it for follow up later on.
- Attend new conferences and seminars. Earlier this year I skipped a conference I regularly attend in California to go to a different conference in Florida. I met new people, was exposed to new approaches, and came away with a greater knowledge base than would have happened by attending the same conference. I also got to visit a part of the United States that was new to me. Look at your routine and consider a change or two in the upcoming year.
- Don’t drop influencers- add new ones. The group of people who have proximity to me has probably doubled and diversified over the past five years. These new relationships have influenced me and I’ve influenced them. You’ll be more effective as a leader by letting others into your circle of influencers.
Having people with proximity to you is a good thing but it needs to be an evolving list.
1. Who has proximity to you? Has your list changed in the past 12-16 months?
Most of us have heard a veteran preacher, someone we normally enjoy, deliver a dud. What went wrong? Often, the speaker committed a basic mistake, something that he knows not to do but overlooked this time. Here are some typical “easy” mistakes of preaching. They’re called “easy” because you can make one of these mistakes without realizing it.
Finding a problem and complaining about it may get some nods from people who agree with you but it doesn’t accomplish anything. The goal of good preaching is to produce change in people. Complaining never gets around to answering the question: “What do you need to do about this problem?” Don’t just help people identify problems; help them to find answers.
2. Cutting To The Chase
When you skip through the introduction to get to the heart of the message, you don’t give your audience a compelling reason to want to hear God’s Word. Even if your audience knows you well, don’t presume they’re interested in what you have to say. As Andy Stanley says, take the time to create tension that everyone wants to know how it will be resolved.
3. A Vague Application
If you have ever used Ikea assembly instructions then you know that even though they consist of simple step-by-step illustrations, they aren’t always easy to follow. We need to make sure that our application is easy to follow.
My rule of thumb is that every message I preach should have an application that can be put into practice within one week- not next month or next year. The application needs to be specific with real life examples of what to do and how to do it.
4. Not Owning The Message
If you prepare your messages several weeks early or wait until the last minute, the message may not be yours when you get ready to preach. You should know the message’s flow, having spent enough time in preparation that you can speak with authority and confidence.
5. Not Using Your Preaching Voice
Your preaching voice is the style you are most comfortable using. Some preachers are storytellers, others are vision-casters, still others are the inspiring orator. Dave Stone has identified 13 different preaching styles. When you consistently preach outside of your preaching voice, you will not connect with your audience. While all of us should strive to communicate in more than one style as needed, stick with who you are and not who you wish you were.
While there are many other mistakes in preaching- these are some of the easiest to make. The good thing about easy mistakes is that they are easy to avoid if you just keep them in mind as prepare your messages.
1. Which mistake is the easiest for you to make? What could you do to eliminate this mistake from your preaching?
By now most of America knows that the most memorable line from this week’s presidential debate was Mitt Romney’s reference to having had “binders full of women”. This phrase has gone viral on the internet. There’s the photo of Hugh Hefner with the words superimposed- “Binders full of women? Of course, I have hundreds of them.” Or the photo of Bill Clinton with the words- “Stop the debate. What’s this about binders full of women?” I can only imagine what Saturday Night Live will do with these now famous words.
The truth is that Mitt Romney stumbled in saying what he meant to say. He just happened to have a nationwide live audience of 65 million people hear words I’m sure he wish he never said. Add the pressure of a debate when you don’t know what the questions are going to be and its surprising that it hasn’t happened already.
I speak for a living. I can still recall a couple of statements that slipped out of my mouth that I wish I could take back. They now seem hilarious (and not repeatable here).
The deeper issue from the presidential debate is who told the truth and who didn’t. There are even fact-checkers (who gets this job?) who analyze the truthfulness of their statements.
Its easy to tell the truth when everyone wants to hear what you have to say. Its easier to shade the truth when you don’t want to provide full disclosure. Jesus said in Matthew 5:37, All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’
And one final word for Mitt and Barack- Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. (James 1:19). But if you can’t do that- be ready for the consequences.
Wednesday’s Chick Fil A Appreciation Day, a response to their corporate stand on same-sex marriage has produced some winners and losers:
- Chicken breeders. More chicken was probably eaten yesterday than any day in America’s history.
- Free Speech. Among yesterday’s customers were vegetarians and same-sex supporters. They said they were there to support freedom of speech.
- Mike Huckabee. If only he had been as successful at running for president Republicans would have forgotten about Mitt Romney by now.
- Bloggers. Like me! Everyone wanted to write about it.
- Rahm Emanuel. Businesses all over America are begging the Chicago mayor to ban them from his city.
- The Olympics. At least on social media. No one even talked about the badminton controversy.
- Chick Fil A. Will the customers that won’t come anymore be replaced with new customers who support traditional marriage (or support free speech)? My hunch- boycotts don’t usually last over the long haul. Chick Fil A will survive.
- Pastors. How will they handle the subject of same-sex marriage when many in their churches are supporters? I read Craig Groeschel’s (pastor of a megachurch in Oklahoma) Facebook page yesterday. Some of his own church people said they will stop attending because he ate at Chick Fil A yesterday. To my pastor friends- you cannot ignore this issue but you better address it well.
If there has been one key element in growing our vision to plant churches in San Diego it has been prayer. Prayer literally has been the engine that drives Sweetwater River Church.
About four years ago a group of us began to pray together on Wednesday night on how SRC could reach the city of San Diego. I had been raised in church and my memories of prayer meetings fell into two categories. They either took place in a side room off of the sanctuary where everybody prayed quietly kneeling over a folding chair trying to stay awake or they were so loud that you couldn’t hear yourself think and you wondered if God was deaf. Visionary prayer is different. It paints the big picture of who God is and how much he loves your city and it asks Him to fill in the details for you. There was a lot of conversation with each other and with God. Everyone was continually reminded that the purpose of these times of prayer was for our city. God wasn’t deaf and we weren’t going to send you to a side room to fall asleep.
As we continued to pray on Wednesdays, God began to give us a target- the City Heights area of San Diego. I didn’t know much about City Heights so I began to learn as much as I could. It is the most diverse neighborhood of San Diego, full of immigrants from all over the world and under-served by churches. We asked God to give us City Heights and He has begun to answer our prayer.
Now four years later, we do a weekly outreach to children called SDMetro Kids. Dozens of children attend this fast-paced program each week. This year we gave away hundreds of back packs with our kids website, sdmetrokids.com, printed on them. One month ago, we launched a Spanish-language church in City Heights that is averaging 25 in attendance.
If you want to reach your city, no matter what size your church is, ask God for a vision. Pray until He answers. I don’t believe that God can deny a church who asks Him for His vision.
Today, we have taken our prayer times off site. We do prayer drives where we go to City Heights and other strategic neighborhoods and pray. We do quarterly House of Prayer Experiences (HOPE) which combine worship and prayer at the church.
Note: Part 1: How My Church Is Starting Three Churches In One Year was posted on October 3, 2011.
After John 3:16, the next most quoted verse might be Proverbs 29:18- Where there is no vision, the people perish. The problem is- too many leaders have no idea what their vision is. I didn’t, and I was the pastor of my church for ten years before I really knew what our vision was. I remember being asked by a member of SRC what was our purpose. I answered with something generic that any pastor might say- “We want to reach people for Jesus.” But shouldn’t that be the answer true for every Christian? There had to be something more specific for a leader.
That question started me on a journey to come up with a better answer. I started by taking a look at my existing church. It was urban, located in a huge city (San Diego), multi-ethnic, small and in a rut. As I prayed (Yes, this really works), God helped me to see that what we had could be assets (except for the being in a rut part) rather than liabilities. I decided to leverage our size, urban location and multi-ethnic composition to be part of God’s plan to reach greater San Diego.
Here’s what happened as I began to latch on to this- the vision grew in me. Over time, I could speak more confidently about it, even when no one else was seeing what I saw! And people began to buy into it. That was five years ago and today I am still talking about the vision.
Two of my top themes in Strengths Finder are Strategic and Futuristic. Those didn’t exist in me five years ago. Two things have changed- the vision has grown tremendously and my capability of leading from the vision has also grown.
I am convinced that vision begins with God and is essential to accomplish anything of value. Without it, churches and ministry perish; perhaps not overnight but eventually.
I am also convinced that vision is both caught and taught. I have watched as my staff has begun to grow their own visions for their ministries. It has become contagious. Where did they develop their visions? Most had something inside of them that once they shared it and got encouragement to develop it, began the process of becoming visionary leaders.
I am convinced that you cannot talk too much about vision. It keeps you alive in the hard times and it needs to be shared with new people who haven’t heard “the rest of the story”.
Next- Part 3: Prayer
Can a church of 100 people plant three new church campuses in one year? That’s what Sweetwater River Church will be doing in 2012. Located in San Diego, SRC is targeting three areas of San Diego- North Park, City Heights, and the College area.
Over the coming months, this blog will describe the process we are following in turning this vision into reality. Already, we have three church planters for these locations. One plant is in the small group stage, another is a bible study of 20- 25 people and the third is in the beginning stages.
If you are a small church leader with a heart to plant, I want to encourage you to listen to our story and to contribute to the conversation of church planting.
Currently, most multi-site church planting is being done by large churches. Even if every large church planted another campus (which many are doing), there is still a huge need for more churches. We are leveraging our size to our advantage. We are big enough to have a full range of ministries but small enough to have a highly relational environment. Planting other campuses is an extension of what we already do. If smaller churches participated in church planting, their numbers would far out pace the number of big church plants.
Coming Next: Vision (You Can’t Talk Too Much About It)
It has been a great summer at SRC as we have grown numerically and are preparing for an amazing fall. I took the summer off from speaking and the team came through with flying colors. I’m proud of the staff, whether they speak or minister in another capacity.
This fall we focus on launching three campuses in San Diego in 2012. One will be in North Park, another will be Spanish language in City Heights and a third will be in the SDSU area. More about these locations in the coming weeks.