What Side of the Problem are You Working?

Post by J David Schmidt

It takes all of about ten minutes in a leadership role to realize Colin Powell (GLS presenter last August) was accurate when he stated, “Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them.”

Well, the “soldiers” across the country are bringing church leaders a common problem, and what side of the problem they focus on really matters.  First a quick story.

Back in the late 50’s, a dad, reading his King James Bible to a growing family of young children, would watch their attention frequently drift off.  Working for a Christian publisher, he had scores of Bibles in his home.  So he didn’t have a supply problem.  This dad faced a demand problem.  The on-ramps to the stories of a big God and His ways, found in the Bible, were just too steep.   Supplying more Scripture the same way wasn’t going to fix the problem.  He had to get on the solution side of the problem—and that was to address the weak demand.  The dad said “Our family devotions were tough going…they would shrug their shoulders—they didn’t know what the passage was talking about.” He faced a leadership decision:  get defensive and dig in, or shift his energies to the solution side of the challenge.  So on his daily train commute to and from Chicago, this dad created a thought for thought translation that would eventually prove to make the Bible more compelling to young and old ears alike.  Today, over 41 million copies later, Ken Taylor’s thought for thought translation* continues to make God’s Word accessible to people around the world.

Here at the start of 2014, your challenge is no different than Ken Taylor’s.  The research says this past week, in your church family:

  • About 19%  read their Bible four or more times
  • Another 40%  opened their Bible once or twice, and
  • 41% didn’t open or access a Bible even once in the past week; not a paper Bible, not YouVersion on their phone.  Not once. Nunca. **

Unless your situation is unique, this pattern is likely yours also. Those 41% who didn’t open their Bible once in the past week (and a solid chunk of those who only opened it once or twice), lack a strong bond with the primary path God uses to give us the truths that ground us and transforms the way we think and live.

If everything in you says this can’t stand, then Ken Taylor’s leadership example is instructive and begs a question: What side of the problem are you working? Are you ready to get on the solution side? To shift some leadership energies away from insuring “supply” to also rethinking how to cultivate a hunger for Scripture and the God it presents?

Leaders working the solution side are willing to rethink the last 20 years of how their church connects people to Scripture.  They’ll put in place new and culturally relevant on-ramps to the Bible. They’ll lift the core value of being a self-feeder, and the critical importance of reflecting on Scripture–and then living it out. And they won’t defend how much Scripture is on their side screens or in their messages or liturgy.

Their hands will be open—and turned upward. (Click here to see which side of the problem you are working.)  

(Editor’s note: The Willow Creek Association and American Bible Society are partnering to help church leaders like you rethink and reset the way you help your attendees engage Scripture. This is a tough, complex problem with no easy answers. If you want to learn more what it means to shift to the solution side of this problem, click here.)

*The Living Bible

**Based on the results of 3 independent studies reviewed and confirmed by American Bible Society.

J. David Schmidt is a strategy consultant serving American Bible Society and other non-profit organizations and churches.

Top Leadership Quotes from 2013

Two days of world-class leadership talks and inspiration, here are some of the Top Leadership Quotes from The Global Leadership Summit in 2013:

“Every significant vision that God births in you is going to put your courage to the test.” @BillHybels

“There is no such thing as an unimportant person in an organization.” Colin Powell

“Love God, love your neighbors, and do stuff!” @BobGoff

“N.O. means Next opportunity.” @MarkBurnetttv

“Lead like a multiplier and the people around you get smarter and do better work.” @LizWiseman

“Are you building God’s Kingdom or your reputation?” @_chris_brown

“You want to change the world? Learn how to change your behavior.” @JosephGrenny

“Innovation = idea + leader + team + plan” @VijayGovindarajan

“You can choose courage or you can choose comfort, but you cannot choose both.” @BreneBrown

“To be alone in ministry is to waste an opportunity to mentor a young leader.” @OscarMuriu

“The hardest thing a leader has to be in charge of is him or herself.” @DrHenryCloud

“You will never do anything more significant in your life than serve the local church.” @AndyStanley

“I didn’t know what I was going to do until my feet got to where I was supposed to be” @Michaeljrcomedy

What are your top leadership quotes from 2013? 

22 More…God’s Not Done

Although the Calendar year 2013 is in the past, the 2013 GLS is still going strong. 22 more Global Leadership Summit events are still ahead of us. God is still moving. Lives continue to be changed. Please continue to pray expectantly as the GLS continues to be experienced around the world.

Stories of the GLS in Brazil, Mexico, and Taiwan!

God is moving and transforming com­­munities in Fortaleza, Brazil. The GLS has been inspiring and giving leaders the encouragement and skills they need to start initiatives in their communities. Sto­ries were shared about a team that started a recycling program at the GLS host church where the members are able to take money received from the program and invest it into helping the homeless, sup­porting a prison ministry, and investing in an after-school program to keep children off the street. The GLS was an encourage­ment to leaders as they expand their minis­tries across the city.

7,800+ Christian leaders have been trained and inspired through the GLS in Taiwan over the last 5 years. Thisyear, they have been challenged by the words of Bill Hybels, “Churches have to bravely ex­tend a hand of friendship. Where there is need, we must bravely seize the moment”. One leader said she has had a tendency to be passive about sharing the gospel, but now she’s excited to seize the moment, and not worry about what others may think, even though she lives in a culture where Christianity is only practiced by 4% of the population.

Putting on the GLS is an adventure of faith for every Steering Committee, but it is especially challenging for first-time sites. The team in Cancun, Mexico faced many obstacles, but persevered. Though Cancun is not one of Mexico’s large cities, there is fragmentation and division among different denominations. In the face of this challenge, the team putting on the GLS decided to focus on raising the level of leadership in­side and outside the church—no matter what denomination or group they belonged to. More than 400 leaders from business and ministry were excited to be at this first-time site, and even lined up outside the door hours before it started. Leaders came together in unity and engaged quickly with each session, giving great attention to the application of the teaching as they seek to transform their communities for Christ.

A glimpse at the GLS in Minsk, Belarus

    

View more pictures and stories at www.willowcreek.com/followthegls

Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your heards and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

How Bill Hybels Stays Replenished

We all know that you lead at your best when you are filled up. Bill Hybels talks to leaders about staying replenished. His message reflects on his own journey navigating a healthy work life balance.

How do you stay replenished? Share you thoughts and best practices. 

Shoes for Syrian Refugees

Post by Matt Brown

Last winter, Michelle and I were watching a CBS evening news story with Scott Pelley, which shared about the great need in refugee camps bordering the war-torn nation of Syria. Thousands of refugees are flooding the camps, and the needs are massive. A businessman from Texas had begun overseeing one of the camps, and expressed the need for shoes for the children during the harsh winter there. This broke my heart. I had a sensation that there are a million problems in the world, but God wanted me to do something about this one in particular.

To this day, I have that same sense in my heart, and I’m wondering what God could use us today if everyone partnered a little bit - how many refugees could we help during this time?

In the last two years, over two million Syrian refugees have fled from the crisis in their country into Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.  Some of the refugees live in overcrowded, unsanitary, often dangerous camps like Zaatari in northern Jordan—a camp established for 30,000 people and now housing more than 150,000 men, women and children.  As conditions in the massive camps become more desperate, increasing numbers of refugees seek help outside the camps in urban areas, only to discover they have virtually no access to jobs, housing, education—or even food.

Fortunately, local churches and grassroots Christian organizations are providing help and hope for these refugees.

These local heroes are offering desperate families groceries, clothing, shoes, first aid supplies, towels, blankets, mattresses, water filters, and heaters, particularly necessary now as winter temperatures reach record lows in the Middle East.

In addition, these faithful servants deliver food and emergency supplies to displaced and vulnerable people still inside Syria, and they help to rescue Syrian women and girls from sex trafficking.  All this work is done in the name and spirit of Jesus.

The local people providing these services are heroes, but they have to be unsung heroes. Because of possible security threats to on-the-ground workers, we can’t name them.  However, one of our partners in this effort, Lynne Hybels, has personal connections to these Middle Eastern ministries, and will transfer 100 percent of your donations directly to them.

If you wonder how much your money can do, here are some examples:

  • Shoes: $8
  • Socks: $2
  • Pajamas: $6
  • Sweaters: $8
  • Blankets: $12
  • Jackets: $17
  • Support a women rescued from sex trafficking for one month: $30
  • 4 blankets and mattress: $70
  • 2 blankets, mattress, stove: $140
  • Support a woman rescued from sex trafficking for one year: $365
  • Provide a family with 3 blankets, 2 mattresses, 1 water filter and filters for a year, 1 stove and fuel vouchers for 8 months: $495

The more you give, the more we can show the love of Christ to Syrian refugees who are suffering. Will you help us? Will you mobilize your friends to meet these needs?

 Go here to give: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/shoes-for-syrian-refugees

Matt Brown is an evangelist, author and founder of Think Eternity. He and his wife Michelle are impacting thousands of people with the gospel each year through live events and online. Their speaking ministry has taken them to the ends of the earth with thousands of people who have dedicated their lives to Christ. They also minister to over one hundred thousand followers on social media on a near-daily basis.

The GLS Thrives in Albania and Kosovo

In a post-Communist culture, more than 350 church leaders gather at GLS events in Albania and Kosovo.

Christian leaders in Southeast Europe’s Balkan Peninsula are eager for leadership training and inspiration. In a post-Communist culture, the GLS is one of the few places where they can gather to experience encouragement and resources.

The Christian minority faces opposition in the form of government curruption, violence, and poverty; and Kosovo’s unemployment rate of 73% is one of the highest in the world. Gathering with other leaders at the GLS “retreat” lifts their spirits.

The highest attended event was in Tirana, Albania, which is the largest gathering of leaders in the country, and includes leaders from the Orthodox church. In the neighboring republic of Kosovo, where the majority of leaders come from a Muslim background, the context of the GLS is very different.

We celebrate the second year of the GLS in the new country of Kosovo, which gained its independence in 2008. While Kosovo is seeking to find its place in the world arena, the church strives to find its identity. Leaders are experiencing a growing belief that God can use the GLS to improve the leadership quality in the church to impact communities and the entire country.

“I like to think that when we said goodbye to the participants at the end of each of the three events in Albania and Kosovo, the work was not finished…that it is just the beginning. Leaders will go out into the world and back to their churches, and implement all that has been spoken into their lives. I am glad I am alive in a time when I can see God work in wonderful ways in the lives of church leaders in Albania and Kosovo. The GLS is God’s way of saying “I love you” to the hundreds of Albanian leaders and hundreds of thousands of leaders  around the world.” -Doni Lilo, GLS Producer in Albania

  

View more pictures and stories at www.willowcreek.com/followthegls

5 Ways To Start Your Year At The Office

Post by Tommy Bowman

It’s a new year and if you’re like me you’re back at the office after a nice, long break. And perhaps you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed. Well, don’t be. Try these steps this week as you get back to work:

1. Map it out

Before you start working, be sure to map out your week. Prioritize what must get done first. Know what you must accomplish and know what can wait. This is true of all weeks but this week especially, block out your calendar for maximum productivity and hold to it. It’s probably not the week to be flexible. Save that for next week.

2. Stay “out of office”

Hopefully you had your Out Of Office on over your break. Well, leave it on. Just for one more day. Perhaps change it to “I’m playing catch-up…I’ll be sure to respond first thing tomorrow morning.” Spend day one responding to the pile in your inbox and then get back to your responsive routine tomorrow.

3. Shut your door

There are a ton of questions to ask and even more to answer when you return to work. You could spend your entire first day in conversation and not on work. Map out a time during step one to get your necessary check-ins scheduled. Keep them tight and then get in your office and shut the door.

4. Ease into it

I might be too late for this one. If so, use this one next time. I find it helpful to get into the office a day before your first day back. Erase your whiteboards, clear your desk, get any needed supplies. This is also a great time to do step one.

5. Work after hours

This is a secret tip of mine. In the process of easing back into it, try going home early, getting a workout in, eating a meal with your family, and going back in for an hour or two in the evening. You’d be surprised by how focused you can be in the evening. Especially with an empty office.

Give these a try this week as you get back to work in 2014. Please share a comment and add a helpful tip of your own!

Tommy is the Directional Leader at Mission Church in the suburbs of Chicago. Tommy’s passion is to take proven leadership values and principles from the business world and implement them into the world of church and church teams.

Five Reasons People aren’t Volunteering at Your Church

Re-Post from Tony Morgan

One of the three core areas of consultation that I provide to organizations is a staffing and structure review. Because we produce a custom structure for every organization, I don’t have any templates to share with you.

What I can offer, though, are several questions that shape how we arrive at our recommendations. Whether you are operating a church, non-profit or business, these same principles about creating a healthy structure will certainly apply.

  1. What is your strategy to accomplish your vision? We base the structure on the core strategy. One of the most frequent questions I get is can we review the staffing structure first? I never do that, because the ideal structure is always based on a clearly defined strategy. For organizations that have not clarified their strategy, we offer the StratOp process.
  2. What are the strengths of your current team? We review not only the roles people currently fill but also the way each person is wired up. We lean on Leading From Your Strengths for this. What are their gifts and skills? What are their experiences? How does their personality impact their contribution? What are they most passionate about? We try to make sure current staff are in a role that is a best fit for them and the organization.
  3. What’s the leadership capacity of people on the team? We pay attention to the 4 Stages of Leadership to determine who has the capacity to lead tens, fifties, hundreds and thousands. There’s no assessment to determine leadership capacity. It’s all based on looking at how a leader has demonstrated leadership capacity in the past — that’s the best predictor of how they’ll live out their leadership role in the future.
  4. Have you developed a senior leadership team? No matter what size the organization, it’s never too early to begin establishing team-based leadership at the top of the organization. I, of course, shared my philosophy on this in my eBook, Take the Lid Off Your Church: 6 Steps to Building a Healthy Senior Leadership Team.
  5. Does every program, service or product connect to the senior leadership team? In other words, nothing stands on its own. Particularly in churches, it’s not uncommon for ministries or programs to be independent and unconnected to the leadership team. Again, this is why we focus on making sure the structure supports the strategy.
  6. Does your structure support future growth? When we complete our staffing and structure review process, we typically recommend a future structure that would support the organization if it was twice its current size. This helps to identify future leadership gaps and begins to help the organization begin to prioritize leadership roles as financial resources become available. We want to help organizations begin to make decisions today that will influence their growth tomorrow.

There are a number of other factors we consider depending on the nature and size of the organization, but these six questions shape the foundation. Let me suggest, as well, that if you are in a high growth situation, you may need to review and adjust your structure every one to two years.

Tony is the Chief Strategic Officer and founder of TonyMorganLive.com. He’s a consultant, leadership coach and writer who helps churches get unstuck and have a bigger impact.

It’s Not Mine to Take or Keep

Re-post from Jenni Catron

“God put me here. 

It is not my responsibility to take, or keep, authority.” 

from A Tale of Three Kings

Leaders, what if we really believed this?

How would it change our actions?

What would be different about how we lead?

I wonder if we’d stress less and love more?

Would we breathe deeper and slow down?

Do we really believe that our authority has been given by God?

Can we be comfortable when it comes and goes?

About Jenni Catron: Executive Director of Cross Point Church in Nashville. Founder of Cultivate Her. Loves great books, the perfect cup of tea, playing a game of tennis with her husband and hanging with her dog Mick.