Month <span class=September 2014" src="">

Month September 2014

Why I Started Leadership Outreach

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“Your mission is too important to attempt without a plan.”  

Simply put, something’s got to change. The statistics are scary. Churches are folding. Pastors are quitting. Non-profits are failing. You’ve read the stats. But what can we do? It’s time we re-think what we are doing. It’s time we reevaluate our methods and programs. It’s time we renew our commitment to the gospel. It’s time for a change.

Perhaps I’m a bit unusual, but change excites me. I love to see, hear, or read about people, organizations, or churches that have overcome incredible odds to reach their mission or fulfill their purpose. It inspires me. Change becomes necessary when we begin to lose momentum, when we acquiesce to status quo, when we encounter a major obstacle or when our environment changes around us despite what we want.

We all face obstacles that stand in the way of our progress…whether it’s a financial hurdle, a physical ailment, or the baggage from a bad decision in the past.

Non-profit organizations and churches, just like people, must find ways to move toward their desired future while overcoming the obstacles before them… pushing forward their unique calling and purpose. They need to change to make this happen.

Having been a pastor for over twenty years, I know the frustration of trying to decide what is the next “right” step for our organization. In a world where the stakes are high (dealing with the eternal souls of people), it is extremely important that the leaders of the organization make wise choices.

A church that tries to do it all, be everything to everybody, reach every man, woman, and child, runs the risk of dying from exhaustion…exhausted people, exhausted resources, and exhausted funds. One church simply can’t do it all. One powerful result of strategic planning is determining what our church or NPO will NOT do.

 

Successfully leading an organization through change is difficult…especially if the people do not yet realize the need for change. That is why it is so important to define reality before attempting a big initiative or a change in direction. Are the people ready for change? Is there data (demographic analysis, survey results, health assessments, etc.) that support a need for change? Change for the sake of change can be disastrous.

 

Wise leaders do their homework and prepare their staff and people for the process of discovering God’s next steps for the organization. This is where Leadership Outreach consultants become so helpful to churches and NPO’s. Our teams of facilitators work with your people to discover God’s plan for your ministry and then establish the framework for seeing that vision accomplished.

If your church, ministry, or non-profit organization is in need of change, call Leadership Outreach today to discuss how our team of trained strategists can assist you in developing your unique, God-ordained strategic plan.

 

Tim Neptune is the founder and president of Leadership Outreach. A seasoned pastor with over twenty years ministry experience, Tim is a facilitator, strategist, and leadership coach. He can be reached at

tim@leadershipoutreach.com or by phone at (239) 775-5323.

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4 Ways Churches Waste Their Time

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Church Growth: My guess is that you’d rather not try 1600 ministry activities before you find the one that works.  

Have you ever worked hard on a project, only to realize later it was a waste?  You’re not alone, and of course, as long as you have a heart to learn from your mistakes, you might be able to chalk up your failures as Thomas-Edison-style “that’s another way not to do it” lessons.  Edison famously “failed” to invent a working light bulb many times over, testing more than 1600 possible filaments before stumbling onto the right one!

My guess is, however, that you’d rather not try 1600 ministry activities before you find the one that works.

Here are four ways churches waste their time:

  1. Measuring activities rather than results.

It may be fun and self-affirming to consider how many sermons have been preached, how many events have been hosted, how many dollars have been given or how many bulletins have been printed. But wouldn’t you rather know how many lives were changed, how many people made a commitment to Christ, or how many members took a next-step of spiritual growth?  Measuring activity can lead you (and your team) to do more and more “work” without any real test of effectiveness.  Measuring results forces us to do that which yields good fruit for God’s kingdom.

2. Operating on hunches instead of data.

You have a great idea! But does it fit with the mission of the organization?  Is it right for the people in your city? Are people really interested in volunteering for it? Would it make as big of an impact as you might hope? Letting data hold your ideas accountable is a great way to avoid massive time and money-wasters. How many people in the church really feel a burden to jump into this new ministry idea? How much money will it actually take? What specific results will this idea yield, and why is it better than what we are currently doing? Are there any better ways to achieve the same objective, using different means?

I’m not suggesting that you study your church to death, but that you let even your best “hunch” be exposed to some honest vetting.  Don’t trust your own perceptions. Churches and organizations have wasted vast amounts of time, personnel and money on hunch-driven assumptions, all of which could have been saved by a bit of humility, patience, and study.

3. Not listening to your team.

Your team loves you, and even more, they love what your church or organization is doing.  That’s why they serve!  This means that when one of them comes to you with a red flag, or an alternative theory, you should push pause. (Granted, some team members are always contrarian, and I’m not suggesting rearranging every time they push back against you.)

But when core, inner circle friends and staff start suggesting other ways to get the same thing done, take note – they may be telegraphing their disapproval, in the nicest way possible.

In an ultimate sense, if you have the “power of the purse” in the organization, your team (particularly those who are paid) will have to fall in line behind you, even if they don’t like or agree with your direction.  Sometimes, this is appropriate, and a necessary choice to lead over the objections of others.  But most of the time, if your team isn’t fully-convinced, you shouldn’t be either.

4. Letting your strategic plan stay in the filing cabinet.

One of the most frequent objections I hear to the strategic planning process goes like this: “We tried that a few years ago!”  All the work, study, consultation and prayer that goes into formulating a strategic plan for a church, and then, the filing cabinet? Or even worse, a lost PDF in your email archives?

This is the responsibility of the lead pastor or ministry leader, to keep the vision in front of the team. If you don’t have the plan on your desk, no one else will.  If you aren’t asking for metrics and measurements regarding organizational objectives, people will reset to old and easy patterns.  If you aren’t celebrating victories or flagging action items that have fallen behind, your team won’t be encouraged to keep moving.  You’ll overhear one of them at the coffee station telling a friend, “Yeah, we did some strategic planning meetings a few months ago.  Nothing really came of it.”

About the Author–Dan Jarvis is a certified strategists with Leadership Outreach and a free-lance writer. He is the editor of Revive! Magazine, a publication of Life Action Ministries. Dan is the author of Commissioned, a book detailing the explosive growth of the local church in India. Dan can be reached at Dan@leadershipoutreach.com.

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Logical Tests for Your Strategic Plan

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Strategic Plan: “will all of our activity yield the results we want”?

Everything at the bottom of your strategic plan must add up to the line on top.  That is, all of your activities and action items should, when added together over time, accomplish your vision.

If they don’t, you may do a lot of good work, but you’ll never see your mission completed.

At Leadership Outreach, we help churches and non-profits develop the kind of growth strategies that can pass this sort of logical test, and at each level of the plan, we can help you and your team think it through.

  • If we execute every strategy we’ve written down, will we overcome every known barrier, and set in motion every factor necessary for success?
  • If we could check off every one of this year’s objectives, will we be satisfied that we met our goals?
  • Do the goal areas we have identified really add up to mission completion?
  • In summary, will all of our activity yield the results we want?

We have found that this is one of the best reasons to work with a third party during the development of an organization-wide strategic plan. A Leadership Outreach strategist can help navigate the conversation, and even at points where it may be uncomfortable, enforce the “logical tests” necessary to take the ideas of your team and turn them into actionable plans.

For example, churches often have lists of ministry activities and fairly complex budgets dedicated to maintaining them. But is that activity and investment really in line with the vision the church has for its future? And for accomplishing its mission in the community?  What if members, staff and volunteers are spending time and money in ineffective ways, not because the activity in question is “bad,” but because it isn’t properly aligned with overall objectives?

As we often say, “your mission is too important to attempt without a plan.”  Building that plan is an exciting process, a chance to focus on what counts the most, and then target resources and effort in the right direction.  If you’d like some help, or just receive some friendly coaching, give us a call, or fill out the interest form here.

About the Author–Dan Jarvis is a certified strategists with Leadership Outreach and a free-lance writer. He is the editor of Revive! Magazine, a publication of Life Action Ministries. Dan is the author of Commissioned, a book detailing the explosive growth of the local church in India. Dan can be reached at Dan@leadershipoutreach.com.

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Mission: Your Inspiration Or Your Destination?

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Mission: Remember what once captured your heart?  The reason you got involved?

Some leaders have the mission firmly planted in their hearts, but only loosely conceived in their minds. That is, they care immensely for their work, but they haven’t really mapped a plan for the next steps, and the steps after those.  Good intentions, yes.  A clear road, no.

Imagine this: what if your completed mission wasn’t just your inspiration, but rather, your destination?  What if you had a specific game plan in hand, with well-thought-out action plans?  What if you could show your team the logical, value-driven steps that would result in your mission being accomplished?

What if you could chart out the most strategic ways to use your time, invest your resources, and deploy your volunteers, then be released to go out and make it happen?

That’s where strategic planning comes in, and where quality coaching can turn your visionary ideas to change the world into a task list for implementers, volunteers and donors.

The process isn’t as difficult as you might imagine. It begins with an honest assessment of where you are, and where you’d like to end up. 

  • Reaching your city with the Good News?
  • Multiplying the membership and reach of your church?
  • Serving a specific community need?
  • Educating children in wisdom?
  • Tackling an impossible global task?

Completing your mission takes not only the courage to dream, but a strategy to implement.  This is where Leadership Outreach can help. Using proven methods to facilitate plans for churches and non-profit organizations, our seasoned coaches and strategists can come alongside your ministry, helping you (and your team) take important next steps.

Our mission is to help you accomplish yours.

We’d love to hear your dreams, engage your staff, and help you define specific, actionable, realistic and measurable objectives.

Your mission is too important to attempt without a plan.  So let’s get started!

Call and speak with a Leadership Outreach strategist, to see how our coaches can come alongside your ministry team.

We help churches and non-profits facilitate strategic plans by working through three key areas of development:  vision, strategy and leadership.

If your organization keeps doing what it’s doing, will your mission ever be accomplished?

Organization Mission, Church Mission, Non-Profit Mission

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