Podcast 008 – Seven Ways to Handle Stress

Practical conversations to turn the dreams for your organization or yourself into a reality! This week we are discussing The 7 Ways to Handle Stress:

Episode Breakdown
Remember to Pray – 1:44
Have an Attitude of Gratitude – 4:28
Keep Safe Outside Voices – 8:36
Have a Healthy Team – 12:25
Be Organized – 17:04
Have Distraction Free Family Time – 21:24
HAVE FUN – 24:58

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Podcast 007 – Consistency is Everything

“Living Beyond the Dream Podcast” – Practical conversations to turn the dreams for your organization or yourself into a reality! This week we are discussing the importance of consistency…

Podcast Questions and Times:
What is the “Flywheel Concept” and why is it important? – 1:00
How do you fall in love with the process – 3:13
How do you communicate consistently to your team without seeming like your micro-managing – 6:48
How do you keep momentum during the hard times? 13:05
What are some actions to keep yourself accountable to consistency? 17:55

Check out the Living Beyond the Dream Podcast on other platforms: ***Spotify
***iTunes

Podcast 006 – Start With the Why

“Living Beyond the Dream Podcast” – Practical conversations to turn the dreams for your organization or yourself into a reality! In this week’s podcast, we are discussing the importance of starting with the why in your organization!

Podcast Questions and Times:
Why is your “WHY” so important? – 0:50
How did you come up with your “why” for Bloom Church? – 2:10
How do you get your team to buy into your “why”? – 3:45
How do you consistently communicate the “why” externally? – 8:30
How has making the “why” a primary focus at Bloom affected your volunteer base? – 13:15
If you have been communicating the “what” more than the “why” how do you turn the ship around? – 20:25

Check out the Living Beyond the Dream Podcast on other platforms: ***Spotify
***iTunes

HOW TO RETAIN VISITORS PT. 4 (SERMON)

So we are wrapping up this blog series on “HOW TO RETAIN VISITORS” and you can check out the previous 3 posts on 1st Impressions, Kids, & Worship.  Today we are going to tackle the sermon.  A recent study by Pew Research on the top reasons why someone chooses a church and the #1 pick at 83% of the people was the quality of the sermons.  Now if that doesn’t speak to the importance of being a good communicator I don’t know what will. Today I just want to hit 7 keys to delivering an effective sermon at you church.

1. Speak on Relevant Topics.

This seems like a no brainer right?!? Speak on topics people want to hear, but you would be surprised on how many speakers just speak on whatever they feel like.  Every great communicator knows you are not a great communicator if you ignore the very needs of the people you are speaking to.  Paul said it best in terms of connecting with his audience “When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.” 1 Corinthians 9:22-23

So how do you know who you are speaking to and to discover their needs?

  • Get your staff involved.  I love bringing my staff into our calendar planning and we discuss what topics are important to our church.  This allows us to expand our reach within our community as each staff member has weekly interactions with so many of our members through serving and Life groups which in return hits a wide demographic.
  • Send out a survey. I also like to get direct feedback from our people and to do so we will have a survey card we ask everyone to fill out once a year.  The survey card actually hits many important ares of our church, but one part of the survey is a list of topics that they would like us to speak on.  This helps us specifically identify the needs in our church.
  • Have a strong prayer life. I feel like every year God speaks a theme into my heart for our church.  2017 the theme is #TheYearofGrowth as we are going to continue to grow physically, but most importantly grow spiritually as our roots get deeper. In 2016 we saw over 600 people give their heart to Jesus and I was really seeking God on developing all these people that are new to the faith in prayer He spoke that theme in my heart.  Seek God and I know he will speak direction into your church.

2. Add a Personal Touch.

Evangelism isn’t telling people what they need to do as much as it is telling them what God has done in you.  You have to share yourself with your people.  Being open with what God has done in your life builds trust with your listener and trust is what drops guards to allow them to receive what you are saying. As much as I wish people came up to me raving about how smart I am as I dropped some Greek or Hebrew knowledge on them it never really happens that way, but every time I share personally how I struggled or doubted and God moved someone is impacted.  Personal stories take it from a far fetched lecture to real experience that can also take place in their lives.

3. Add Humor.

This is probably the hardest thing to build into a message, but it so extremely necessary because laughter allows people to relax and get engaged. Now the better you know your audience the more you feel comfortable in this space.  A few things to think about is first you are not a standup comedian that needs to have an elaborate joke with a punchline so don’t put that pressure on yourself, secondly don’t  take yourself to seriously but be willing to laugh at yourself, thirdly thinking of a funny story or exaggerated examples that goes with your topic truly helps,  and lastly the more comfortable and relaxed you are on stage the funnier you are.

4. Add Applicable Points.

I like to build into every message either a “Take Home” or “Action Steps” which are practical points people can apply to their life.   It is one thing to give someone spiritual goosebumps and get them all amped on your fiery message, but it’s a whole new ball game when they actually start applying what you speak on. Many people want to apply the messages, but we use such broad strokes in our messages that they don’t seam practical.  So what I do is give them something physical to walk out the service to do in the week… Everything from joining a LifeGroup, to going on a date with your spouse, to writing out goals, to setting a specific devotion time, etc… We have to put action towards our faith.

5. Let Your Message Breathe.

Great messages unfold over time.  To many pastors throw their messages together at the last moment and in doing so haven’t given the message enough time to breathe.  I like to have my messaged outlined earlier in the week and finished no later than Thursday.  This gives me several days to tweak the outline and then two whole days to polish the finished message.  You will find humor is easier to develop after you have gone over the message many times, your transitions become smoother as work through them over and over again, and you are able remove material that isn’t really necessary.  Don’t wait to the last minute to write your message, but you have to build into your calendar planning and writing moments for your message every week.

6. Speak with Pace.

Pace is one of the most important factors to keep peoples attention.  Most speakers speak with a slower pace because they don’t truly know their material and so they are constantly going back to their notes.  I am a big advocate of speaking without any notes and I don’t even have a pulpit on stage.  I have confidence monitor set up in front of me that has my main points and scriptures. This allows me to have an effective pace and flow in my messages.  The key is not memorizing your messages, but knowing your message.  When you truly understand the content of each point and have went over your material enough you will be able to deliver what I believe is a more personal message.  No longer is your head down hiding behind a pulpit, but you are out front engaging your audience.

7. End EVERY Message with a Salvation Opportunity.

I have seen so many Pastors deliver powerful messages where you could sense people were ready to commit their lives to Jesus in the room, but the speaker just ends the service with no opportunity to except Jesus.  I am convinced many searching people leave Sundays still searching because as Pastors we didn’t communicate with them their first step. We live in a generation that wasn’t raised in church and to assume people know the sinners prayer is a mistake.  I cannot tell you the amount of people that have attended our church that don’t know what worship is, offerings is, who Matthew Mark Luke or John are let alone accepting Jesus free gift of salvation.  Every Sunday is an opportunity to expand the Kingdom of God and nothing is more energizing to a Church body than knowing they are part of a Great Commission church!

Lets be communicators that speak the life, the truth, and the hope of Jesus in ways that connect with our people week in and week out as we see more people come and then become involved in our church communities!

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed it, leave a comment I would love to hear from you!

MARRIED TO THE VISION

As a leader God has placed a vision in your heart that is unique to you personally, to your church, and a vision that is effective to reach your community.  That vision is the “WHY” that drives your organization.  It is the reason why people get out of their beds early to serve, why they give to their church, and why they tell their friends and family about the church they love so much.  They understand what their church is uniquely about and not only that but they have personally experienced it!

Vision is like the gas in the engine of your organization.  Yes you have the tangible elements of the mission, systems, staff, and structure, but none of those things are going to get you very far without the fuel that is the vision.  The reality is people do not rally around service times, they do not rally around buildings, and sadly they rarely rally around the directions of the writers of the Bible.  But they do rally around a vision that takes those things and clearly explains why we do what we do and how that impacts real people in our communities.  That is the vision that God has placed in your heart as the leader.  That is the fuel to get the engine of your organization running and to keep it going.  That is the “WHY” that people rally behind and sacrifice for.

Unfortunately most leaders over time forget the importance of their mission and start focusing more and more on the engine and less and less on the fuel.  They allow modifications to take place that have nothing to do with where they are going and allow outside hands to tweak the organization in ways that suite them personally, but doesn’t benefit the organization moving forward.  The greatest understanding a leader must have is this.  We are married to the vision God has given our church and we never cheat on that vision under any circumstances! Too many leaders are unfaithful to their vision and that single thing is what is killing their organization more than anything else.  They are creating a culture of infidelity when it comes to the vision of their church where anything goes. If we know anything it is that an affair strains a relationship more than anything else because it rocks trust to its core and without trust people will not sacrifice in ways that an organization needs for it to succeed.

Now as leaders we don’t cheat on the vision intentionally, but what happens is we start to focus more on the tangibles of our present and less on what we are building and where are we going.  So we start letting things like money dictate our decisions, talent run the show, and strong personalities have a deciding opinion even though it is contrary to our vision.  We are scared that if we say “no” that they will dismantle our engine and leave us broke down on the side of the road. What we don’t realize is we are already broke down because we have no fuel we are just distracted by all their modifications that are just a false sense of progress.

So where do we go from here so that we can be 100% committed to the vision God has given us?  Here are three things to help us move forward:

1. Physically write out your vision.

You have to clearly state why you do what you do.  How can you stay faithful to something you don’t even know what that something is?  Gray areas are organizational killers! We must simplify and clarify what we are about as an organization. Before you do anything else block out time in your schedule to figure out your vision!  You can also read my post here to help you clarify your vision.

2. Physically write out your “HOW”.

Now that you know your vision you need to figure out “HOW” you are going to achieve that vision.  This needs to be what your organization does and you need to keep it simple.  No more than 4 or 5 things.  A healthy church cannot be a ministry buffet and have more events going on than the event center  in your city.  You have to write out only what you are about, how you will achieve that, and build from there.  Maybe start extremely small and grow from there.  Like we are only going to focus on our Sunday service for the next 6 months until that is solid and then add the next step.  But simplifying your “HOW” keeps the vision clear and your people unified.

3. Your vision becomes your litmus test.

Everything is ran under the filter of your vision.  Every idea, every ministry, every opportunity, every lead team member, every staff member, etc…. If it doesn’t marry seamlessly with your vision then it is a no go.  That sounds harsh, but unnecessary modifications just mess up your gas mileage and keep you from going the distance that you were created to go!

4. Be willing to lose people.

You will lose people when you say no! Brace yourself and expect it, but you are losing people that are not helping but hurting the organization.  We as leaders have to be ok with losing a few to gain many.  The reality is that the people you lose need to find a church with a vision that they can rally around just as much as you need people to rally around your vision.  In losing people you are actually benefiting them and yourself because a healthy organization is not a forced relationship.  When we lose people that are not sold out our vision the mood rises, the growth starts happening, and the momentum takes off!

I would love to hear your thoughts below…. What are the biggest compromises that hurt your organizations vision?