The Business of Church Part 5 van niekerk

What do you think is the way that God intends for the church to make disciples?
Can you state it clearly in a sentence?
What is the goal of your church and what are you doing to reach that goal?

When you answer these questions, you are revealing strategy.

If you are going to lead people from one place to another, by definition, you have a strategy. You must know where you are starting from and know where you are going and how you are going to move from one place to the other. Even if your plan is to just flow with the Spirit, you still have a strategy, albeit a very fluid one.

A strategy is a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim.
In ministry, our mission is to make disciples and teach them to become mature followers of Christ who then make more disciples. All of our ideas about what we could do should point towards this ultimate goal.

I love talking strategy. Buckle up. This is my longest post to date.

Keep thinking! Continue reading.


The Business of Church Part 4 van niekerk

All of us appreciate visionary leadership, and we have all been greatly affected by it. Whether our visionary leaders are historic figures, great authors, caring teachers, parents, or bosses; we appreciate someone who exposes us to a better, new way of living. In the classic example, they tell us, “You can’t stay here. There’s something better available. Here’s how things could be. This is who you can become.”

This seems obvious to me: if you are not calling people to something different, you aren’t leading. In a word, leadership is change. Strategy is important. It tells us how we are going to get there, but fundamentally, visionary leadership always includes change.

If leadership is change, the greatest most important leadership lesson, then, is to create an environment where change is expected and embraced as natural. Would any of us describe the average church this way? From updating decor to outdated programs, the last words we would use to describe church is expecting and embracing change.

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The NO Conundrum

“The art of leadership is saying no, not yes. It is very easy to say yes.”
Tony Blair

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully.”
Steve Jobs

Like everyone else, I have found it easier to say yes—and avoid the relationship turmoil—than to say no (At least, if you care about the person). Consistently making these hard calls is the make or break leadership lesson we all face.

But I also recognize that our culture values the leader who doesn’t take no for an answer.
There is definitely a tension between being a leader who says no, and being a leader who accepts no. Culturally, we embrace one and reject the other.
When the vision is clear, we say no to anything that dilutes our focus.
When the vision is clear, we work any angle we can to avoid a no that stands in the way of our goal.
Accepting no is viewed as weak and quitting.
Saying no is viewed as strong and focused.

Just this past week, I had to walk through two situations where I had to tell people no. Their responses illustrate this tension very well. And though this tension may be real, I wonder if we have thought through the consequences of our actions.

Keep thinking! Continue reading.

Leadership—Are You Doing it Wrong?

Perhaps in times past it was enough to give people a place to work, provide job description parameters, and some system of accountability to make sure they were getting things done.

I believe those days are over.

And it’s our own fault.

We have taught people that God has a plan for their lives. We have encouraged people to pursue their passions. We have discipled people to believe that their talents matter to the Kingdom of God.

If we do not then follow through and assist people in finding and living out those passions, they get frustrated. Disappointed.

What we are saying does not match the systems we have set up.

My friend C. describes the goal of where we all want to get to as convergence– the place of effortless fruitfulness of living in the fullness of all God created you to beIt’s about rowing downstream (who you are created to be) with God’s current (your Kingdom assignment)
It is Joseph flourishing in the palace having been shaped by the journey to get there—both in development of skill and in ironing out his sinful rough edges.

All this leadership talk we have as a church keeps us so focused on explaining and maximizing the vision, we have forgotten the true calling of a leader—to lead others to convergence.

My friend B. says that where your gifting and talent intersect with the needs you see around you, that is your God-given assignment. Her goal is to help people discover that and then help them discover the courage to live it out.

But those ideas are not my main thought. Though they support it.
As church leaders, we need to stop seeing our jobs as placing people into the right slots of our organization so that we can fulfill our vision and start seeing our jobs as releasing people into their right slot in the Kingdom even while they are still working for us!

I’m going to swing the hammer 11 times. Hopefully, I’ll hit the nail at least once.

Keep thinking! Continue reading.

The Business of Church Part 3 van niekerk

It’s not very sexy to say, but few things matter as much as organizational structure. The way we live—literally determined by a sequence of choices born out of belief—determines everything.

This is very true of the church as well. Whether good or bad, the structure of our churches exactly matches what we really believe. There’s no way around it.

As we continue to til the soil of understanding about how the church does its work, we have looked at this important definition:
A. A business is an organization involved in the trade of goods and/or services to customers in exchange for money.
B. The efficient and effective operation of business is accomplished through the management of financial, capital, and human resources.

Last time we talked about money. This time we focus on organizational structure.

Keep thinking! Continue reading.