Busy Does Not Equal Productive

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Dr. Paul Borden
Rocky Mountain Church Network
Catalyst/Coach

Taken from Growing Healthy Churches October 2014 E-Newsletter

 

 

I do not think I have ever met a pastor that when asked said that she/he was not busy in ministry. I do not think I have ever shared when asked about my use of time that I have not said that I have not been busy in ministry. Being busy in ministry is almost as much an absolute for evangelical pastors as believing in the Deity of Jesus Christ. Yet as we look at The Church of Jesus Christ it is obvious that a busy clergy does not produce great results when it comes to congregational health and growth. Assuming that a lack of busyness is not the answer to such poor results, we must then determine the problem of such a low correlation between effectiveness and effort. I would suggest that rather than talking about busyness we should be focusing on production. After all our Lord did talk about fruitfulness, which is an evaluation of production. In other words, if all pastors are busy, then we must determine what generates more production for the time invested. 

Evaluating ministry more on production then time served means starting with a clear sense of mission or purpose. The clearer the purpose the easier it is to determine whether production has been or not been achieved. For example, if my purpose for an afternoon is to rest and relax, I can determine as evening approaches whether such has or has not occurred.

A clear mission then leads to strategies and tactics. We all know that any purpose is best served well if the appropriate strategies and tactics are determined and implemented. So a relaxing afternoon for many might include the elimination of all sources of interruption. It would also probably entail a change of environment, particularly the environment in which I regularly work.

Once the strategies and tactics are selected I must then establish criteria to determine if the strategies and tactics are implemented well and produce the intended results that fit the purpose being achieved. So the criteria for a relaxing and restful afternoon might be the re-creation of my mental and emotional state along with renewed physical energy that results in more motivation to achieve results when I enter back into my normal responsibilities.

Therefore busy pastors that seldom see the production they desire need to evaluate their overall approach to ministry. First is there a clear mission for their role and for the personal achievement of their role? If such is not the case, they need to establish such a mission. The clearer and more specific that mission is the better the chance they will succeed in fulfilling it.

Second, these pastors then need to examine the strategies and tactics they employ throughout the week to determine two things. The first determination is the wisdom of employing such strategies and tactics. The second determination is how consistently and effectively the strategies and tactics are implemented.

Finally, pastors then must set goals to determine whether the results achieved are good or need improvement. These results need to be viewed over an extended period of time (three to six months). As many sports or musical coaches say, the goal is to get a little better every time we play or practice.

We are all busy (at least we all say we are). We are not all productive. Our goal hopefully is to improve the correlation between busyness and production.[/text_output][/vc_column][/vc_row]

3 Keys of Management

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Dr. Paul Borden
Rocky Mountain Church Network
Catalyst/Coach

Taken from Growing Healthy Churches September 2014 E-Newsletter

 

 

 

One of my favorite quotes from Peter Drucker is, “The purpose of management is to make the church more church-like than to make the church more business-like.”   We must remember that administration is a spiritual gift not a skill developed during the Industrial Revolution.  Managing congregations properly, regardless of their size, is key to achieving the mission God calls all congregations to pursue.

The first responsibility of management is to align all the congregation does behind the mission.  It is amazing the number of congregations that have mission statements that are not achieved, in large measure due to the lack of alignment.  People are not aligned to serve with effectiveness and ministries are not aligned to achieve the mission and vision.

The second key issue of management is getting the right people in the right ministry positions.  Obviously the smaller the congregation the more difficult a task this is, since the pool of people from which one recruits is not large.  However, this lack of personnel is addressed as the leader recruits, trains and develops people to serve.  While such actions are often described as leadership responsibilities, yet such actions also reflect good management skills.  If a congregation never gets the right people in the right positions it will not be healthy, grow and achieve its mission.  Good managers are always on the lookout for key people and they are always training in order to help people succeed in the tasks they are assigned.

A third key issue of good management is establishing ways to achieve accountability.  No mission is ever achieved where there is no accountability.  Accountability assumes that people clearly understand the roles they are given, are provided with adequate authority to carry out the roles well and know that certain expectations must be met.  Therefore good managers are clear about roles, ensure people are given the freedom and resources to achieve expectations and provide any training that is required to help those serving be effective.

Good managers also understand systems.  They know how to align servants to achieve effectiveness within a system and how to coordinate systems to be both efficient and effective.  Missions are achieved with greater effectiveness when the various ministries of the congregation are integrated and not isolated from each other.

The bottom line of management is service and good managers are great servants.  They serve first, their master and His mission for His Church.  They serve the people they manage in order to help them achieve both individually and collectively the mission.  And they serve the system in order to produce highly effective integration so the congregation functions at its maximum best.

When managers serve as described here, Drucker’s quote takes on even greater significance and congregations become shining lights in their respective communities.[/text_output][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Restructure

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Dr. Paul Borden
Rocky Mountain Church Network
Catalyst/Coach

Taken from Growing Healthy Churches August 2014 E-Newsletter

 

 

 

All organizational structures are only as good as the people who are a part of their make-up. We have all seen times when democracy has worked well and when it has worked poorly. The same is true for more authoritarian designs as well. Structure in churches is no different. Working with a variety of denominations demonstrates that each one’s polity has its merits and each has its drawbacks. Yet it is amazing that when denominations or congregations are in trouble (in decline, on a plateau or filled with conflict) people think that changing the structure is the best way to deal with the situation. However, such is not the case. 

Whenever we work with a congregation that is facing difficulty we first deal with the mission and the vision. If people cannot agree on the same organizational purpose and the same goal, structure is irrelevant. Once the issues of purpose and achievement are settled, then it is often necessary to deal with structure. After all the purpose for structure is to help any organization achieve its mission and vision in the most efficient and effective ways possible.

Too often when congregations work on structure they focus on one of the traditional ways denominations have said structure should be formed. These forms are usually referred to as polity. Yet all of the polities are based on exegetical and theological assumptions derived from Biblical passages, often influenced by the historical times in which the polities were developed.

Since the Bible does not lay out a picture of an overall polity for The Church it might be better to think of structures in relation to overarching key issues. The first is governance. This issue forces us to wrestle with authority. As one thinks through authority one is then forced to wrestle with both responsibility and accountability. The governance issue also leads one to determine who makes the final decisions and how they are made.

After dealing with governance, people need to think of the differences and similarities between leadership as a behavior and the role of those in leadership positions (which are often identified with authority). The two do not always go together, either in theory or practice.

One other issue that must be considered by congregations is the difference between position (the role one has in the organization) and gifting, particularly as it relates to both leadership and authority.

The goal is to then develop a structure that both fits what the Bible is clear about in its teachings and the effective implementation of the mission and vision. Always remembering that any organization is only as good as the people who lead and have authority.[/text_output][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Unsung Heroes

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Dr. Paul Borden
Rocky Mountain Church Network
Catalyst/Coach

Taken from Growing Healthy Churches July 2014 E-Newsletter

 

 

 

In most congregations, regardless of size, there are one, two or three key lay leaders that carry an inordinate amount of influence. They carry this influence for a variety of reasons, some good and some not so good. In most cases they have served the church with varying degrees of consistent commitment for a number of years. In other cases it may be their wisdom, their influence in the community that is carried over into the church or even their real or perceived generosity. As congregations grow or decline, it is often a direct result of their influence and how it is felt throughout the life of the church. These people may be in leadership positions but not necessarily.  

Since most congregations in our nation are in decline or on a plateau in attendance these individuals play a key role in whether the congregations of which they are a part can experience systemic transformation. If these people, for what ever reason do not want it to happen, it usually does not, and if they do, transformation may happen with great success. Many times such people are labeled as church bosses, tribal chiefs, the God Father or God Mother etc. Most wise pastors soon learn who such people are because they carry influence with most of the congregation.

Although we often hear a number of bad things about such people, I have been more and more impressed with the number of key influential laity I have run across in conducting congregational consultations. In many cases I find that such people are often against change because they have seen it attempted so poorly for so long. They’ve watched pastors and denominations bring in program after program that while promising positive change, often failed. However, often such people really do want to see the lost saved, desire to see their congregation have influence in the community and do want to experience genuine health resulting in growth.

We must remember that many of these influencers have seen pastors, denominational leaders and other (so-called) experts come and go making a big to do with little of substance happening. However, if they do believe that the change is really about the Kingdom of God and it makes sense and has a track record of effectiveness they are often open to using their influence for Godly change. When such occurs, these are the people that enable change to not just be initiated but to continue steadfastly, when others get tired. Such laity is the pastor’s best asset in leading change. Often these are the unsung heroes of congregational transformation and the real people of faith God uses to accomplish great things.

Those with influence can do great damage, but when God gets a hold of their hearts they are the true women and men of faith today.

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Denominations

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Dr. Paul Borden
Rocky Mountain Church Network
Catalyst/Coach

Taken from Growing Healthy Churches June 2014 E-Newsletter

 

 

 

One major reason for the creation of denominations and church associations was that congregations realized they could often do more together then they could individually.  The sending of missionaries to foreign countries is often used as the best illustration of the benefit of churches grouping together.  I want to share another way in which church groupings are today allowing individual congregations to see the benefit of being in partnership with other churches.

As many congregations throughout the nation decline in attendance and money, while increasing in age, and as a result lose their ability to bring much if any influence for Jesus Christ in the communities in which they exist, a new phenomenon is occurring.  The few congregations that are growing are seeing as both a need and a responsibility the obligation to help those congregations that want to change, grow and become effective again.  These larger congregations are not interested in aiding and helping the congregations that do not want to change, which is wise.  However, if smaller congregations are willing to become intentional about making new disciples for Jesus Christ a number of larger congregations, often within individual denominations, are willing to offer assistance.

I know of several smaller congregations that are now led by boards made up of pastors and key lay leaders from larger congregations nearby.  Others are seeing staff and lay leaders from larger congregations taking up key leadership positions in these smaller churches.  Other churches are entering into partnerships with smaller denominations and taking solo pastors from the smaller congregations and adding them to their own church staff, while allowing that solo pastor to continue to serve her/his home congregation.  Finally, some are even taking on the smaller congregation as a campus of their church, which enables the larger church to be a multi-campus church while serving the smaller churches as though it was one of their own congregations.  In all of these cases the larger churches are offering the smaller congregations, coaching, mentoring, leadership, and key resources such as volunteers, expertise, leadership, people to attend services and in some cases even dollars.

The pastors and boards of larger congregations understand that the issue is the growth of the Kingdom of God.  Smaller congregations often have property, buildings, locations and even historical influence in communities that need again to be leveraged for God’s honor and glory.  These leaders realize it is not about each church doing its own thing and sinking or succeeding on its own.  Our nation is becoming more and more secular and as a result there are more and more people who need to be reached with the good news of the love of God in Jesus Christ.

As I am watching this phenomenon take place it again demonstrates that the Body of Christ is not about individual Christians or even individual congregations.  The Body of Christ is the living breathing army of saints that are on a mission to reach the lost for Jesus Christ.  We really can do more together then we can on our own.[/text_output][/vc_column][/vc_row]

What is Attractive?

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Dr. Paul Borden
Rocky Mountain Church Network
Catalyst/Coach

Taken from Growing Healthy Churches April 2014 E-Newsletter

 

 

 

Fourteen months ago a declining congregation of less than one hundred people went through a church consultation. One key result was that the congregation needed to become much more involved with their community. Taking this advice to heart the people reached out to an elementary school with whom, they had a relationship, though not an overly positive one. A large grocery chain was offering coupons to help students purchase computers and note pads for school work. When a customer purchased a requisite amount of groceries they received coupons. The church body collected over a thousand of these coupons. The church then displayed them in a booklet and took the coupons to the local school and gave them to the principle, telling her they were for the school. This gift led to a continual connection of ministry that currently exists between the school and the church. Recently the church, in a Sunday service, honored the school, the faculty and the children. Their attendance that day almost doubled and the church is now seen as a place of service and love by those leading the school. By the way, in the last twelve months the congregation has grown by fifteen percent, some of which is conversion growth.

One way for small churches, often with limited resources, to begin to change their momentum and see growth, is to reach out in small but meaningful ways, to serve local communities.  Recently I heard of a church that in one year has doubled in attendance from twenty to forty people, during the Eater season, distributing five hundred boxes of cookies to their little town. They want the people to know they care for them. Another pastor in a congregation of less than seventy people has led the church people to reach out to their local school. It is making a difference in both the church’s sphere of influence and in growth. The pastor said the change for him came when he realized he had not been called to be the pastor to his church but to the community.

 Small churches often find it hard to attract people to visit their campus. They usually do not have the human or financial resources to create ministries and programs that cause people to want to attend. However, these congregations are not helpless. It begins with a vision of how God wants to use them to serve those who are not yet there. They can start by serving in physical and tangible ways. God then opens doors to help them serve in spiritual ways ministering to those apart from God through Jesus Christ, by helping lost become brand new disciples.

There is one other factor. Each story I’ve shared is occurring in congregations that do not see these outreach services as one time events but ones to be practiced continually. They also recognize that there must be strategies to move from the initial acts of service to next steps that help lost people meet their greatest need which is connection to their Savior Jesus Christ.[/text_output][/vc_column][/vc_row]

The Problem is Never Just the Problem

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Dr. Paul Borden
Rocky Mountain Church Network
Catalyst/Coach

Taken from Growing Healthy Churches March 2014 E-Newsletter

 

 

 

I recognize that any model of governance will work if the people doing the governing understand and practice the beliefs that they are in positions of responsibility to accomplish an agreed upon mission and to do all they can to help those being governed to serve well in accomplishing the mission. I also recognize the opposite is true, that no matter how good the model of governance might be, it still depends on the character of those doing the governing. Ultimately it gets down to character and integrity, and in congregational contexts, the Biblical and theological acumen of those governing.

The model proposed by John Kaiser in his book, Winning on Purpose is to date the best model I know to try and achieve Kingdom effectiveness in a fallen world. It hopefully provides the best checks and balances between the concepts of responsibility, accountability and authority. If implemented well, it enables capable leaders to lead the community in the achievement of God’s mission for the Church and create an exciting motivating vision for the congregation to live out in service to the Lord of the Church. However, the model still assumes that those governing are people of high character and integrity.

Pastors and board chairs must understand that having the best model is not enough, since the model is only as good as the people that function within the model. It still demands leadership skills.

For example, pastors need to understand the small problems and conflicts usually do not go away by ignoring them. Most minor conflicts are like leavened bread. The problems rise and get bigger over time, usually when people are not looking. Also, many of the conflicts in either board or staff relationships are coming from people that are experiencing frustration arising from unpleasant situations in their homes or places of employment. The problem is never just the problem. Many congregational conflicts are like onions that reflect various levels of unrest, often in multiple life experiences. Therefore good leaders realize that any governance model will be thwarted in its intent if problems are not handled well (in a variety of wise ways) while they are still relatively small ones.

Passive aggressive behavior is never to be tolerated, even if the issues are small in nature. In fact it is better to deal with such behavior when the issue is minor and emotions are not engaged at a high level. Also, if such behavior is practiced when the issue is not a large one, it will be practiced with even greater art, when the issue is much more significant.

Good leaders understand that accountability is not just related to goals.  Accountability must be practiced in dealing with the day to day implementation of normal governing functions. We must all be called to accountability for our actions when our actions threaten the conduct of governance, no matter how small or large the issue might be.[/text_output][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Cultural Architects

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Dr. Paul Borden
Rocky Mountain Church Network
Catalyst/Coach

Taken from Growing Healthy Churches February 2014 E-Newsletter

 

 

 

In accomplishing their mission, congregations interact with three cultures. They are our national culture, the congregation’s local culture and the individual culture of each congregation. However congregations also deal with three other cultures in how they are organized to accomplish their mission. The first is the organizational culture itself, the professional culture of the pastor and the leaders and finally the geographical culture related to the location in which the congregation exists.

The organizational culture relates to how people within the congregation interact with each other. One example might be how problems are handled. In a few congregations they are dealt with in an open manner in which the problems are stated and the solutions focus on issues not personalities. In other situations (too often reflecting majority of congregations) problems are dealt with in a passive-aggressive manner. Some congregations function from a guilt perspective while others handle things with a sense of grace. In other cases congregations may have a scarcity mentality in regards to resources while others come from an abundance perspective. Wise pastors, who lead well, know they must understand the culture of the congregation first, before determining how to deal with problems in ways that reflect Biblical behavior while producing unity around the mission and vision.

The professional culture relates to how the pastor views the pastoral role and how the congregation and its leaders view the role of the pastor. The first question that must be determined is for whom does the pastor ultimately work? The right answer to that question is that the pastor works primarily for the chief shepherd not the sheep. However, many congregations do not believe this as demonstrated by the day to day expectations they have for their pastor. Another issue is the pastor’s primary responsibility. Is the primary responsibility to provide care for the sheep or to lead the sheep, even when such leadership requires “tough love”. Another key question relating to the pastor’s role is the growth of the congregation. Is the major criterion of evaluation the spiritual growth of the believers who already are part of the congregation or is the criterion evangelistic growth that generates a growing body of new believers that are now growing spiritually?

The third culture that must be dealt with is the culture of the community and the impact the community’s beliefs and values have on the congregation. Recently I was in a larger congregation in a small isolated community. The congregation had gone into a “bunker” mentality about reaching out since everyone saw the community declining. I pointed out to them that there would be over 5,000 people, just like them, living in the community five years from now. There would also be thousands more who were not like them, still living there in the future as well. Wise pastors help congregations embrace Biblical thinking and the resulting behaviors whether the values and beliefs of the surrounding community support such thinking or oppose it.

Wise pastors that are effective are ultimately cultural architects. They help congregations embrace the mission by first helping them understand the internal cultures. These pastors then lead congregations to leverage the various cultures in which they find themselves to accomplish the mission.[/text_output][/vc_column][/vc_row]

The Hearts of Disciples

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Dr. Paul Borden
Rocky Mountain Church Network
Catalyst/Coach

Taken from Growing Healthy Churches January 2014 E-Newsletter

 

 

 

 

We in GHC (Growing Healthy Churches) believe pastors should know what people give. If the pastor is the Spiritual leader of the congregation, as most congregations I work with would attest, than the pastor needs to be aware of one of the most spiritual acts a believer performs which is how that believer honors and obeys God with their finances. According to Jesus Christ a person reveals their heart and its commitment to Jesus by how the resources God uses to bless an individual or family are handled.

Many pastors use James 2:1-4 as an excuse for not knowing. Such pastors say they do not want to be biased by showing favoritism based upon what a person gives. I find that this excuse does not fit the passage, reflects such a low level of spiritual maturity on the part of pastors that is embarrassing, and it is not consistent with other pastoral judgments and behaviors.

First the passage is talking about providing people status based upon their apparent overall wealth or poverty, not on the amount an individual gives to God. In fact good giving is based not on the amount given but on the percentage given based upon the total resources a person possesses. Jesus honored the widow and her giving, not based upon the amount, but upon the fact that she gave all she had. Therefore, wealthy people who give large amounts that are only a trifle of their income are not good givers. Whereas, people with less resources who give a significant part of their income (which may be much less then gifts given by wealthy people) are, in God’s eyes, good givers. Wise pastors do not look at the amount given alone, but whether the gift reflects true sacrifice or just financial inconvenience.

Second, I find most pastors make judgments about members of their congregations that are legitimate, and do not make God’s gracious blessings of individuals, whether it be money, spiritual gifts, physical appearance, talents, personality, IQ etc. as a basis for giving a person favored status in the congregation. Pastors are looking for disciples who model discipline, faithfulness, dedication, mentoring, reproduction, commitment, responsibility etc. as those things that enable a person to be given the privilege of service (status) in a congregation. If such is true in these areas, why is giving different? It is not. Most pastors I know, if found guilty of discrimination, it is for reverse discrimination to assuage cultural guilt.

All leaders are expected to make judgments about disciples. We are to judge behaviors. If we cannot judge behaviors we cannot honor those who the Bible says to honor and we cannot exercise church discipline. We are to judge words. If we cannot judge words then we cannot distinguish between true and false teaching. We are not to judge motives and we are not to discriminate (a form of judgment) based on status which comes from how God dispenses or does not dispense his grace.

Giving is a behavior that requires discipline and reflects ones growth or lack there of as a disciple. Therefore pastors need to know what people in the congregation give.[/text_output][/vc_column][/vc_row]