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Thick Skins – Soft Hearts (via David Prince at For The Church)

Working together in partnership to develop and further the ministry and mission of a local church is best served by an open-ness and humility in conversation that allows conviction.
David Prince writes about life

We must not settle for any idea offered in a staff meeting planning time simply because it might hurt someone’s feelings to push back against it, including ideas offered by the one who leads the meeting. Good is often the enemy of the strategic in planning and in church staff meeting superficial niceness is often the enemy of the strategic. This fact is odd, since, in the church, we are uniquely having family conversations about the most important mission in the world.
Those who sit at the staff meeting and planning table need to possess thick skin and a soft gospel heart. An effective meeting leader regularly reminds those attending of the purpose of the meeting, what is to be accomplished, and what is at stake. If the staff team possesses this thick skin / soft gospel heart makeup, they will proceed with understanding that gospel advance and faithfulness is more important than their temporal feelings. If any group of people in the cosmos should understand that we must not settle for pleasing people in our labor it should be a church staff team.

source.


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No Points For Busy (via Seth Godin)

I’m always uncomfortable when people tell me I’m busy.
(They’re always making that observation in an encouraging and sympathetic way, not as a complaint, btw)
From Seth Godin:

There’s a common safe place: Being busy.
We’re supposed to give you a pass because you were full on, all day. Frantically moving from one thing to the other, never pausing to catch your breath, and now you’re exhausted.
No points for busy.
Points for successful prioritization. Points for efficiency and productivity. Points for doing work that matters.
No points for busy.

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Seeking Genuine Accountability (via Ed Stetzer)

In a post about leadership Ed Stetzer identifies a number of areas that he describes as mature leadership.
On of these has to do with accountability.

Mature leaders purposefully set up structures for accountability and then seek and receive genuine accountability within those structures. They understand that it is easy to be drawn into inappropriate use of that power and will engage in honest and transparent accountability. Every person with power and influence needs to submit to an accountability structure and seek accountability somewhere in some way.
source

Now, the challenge is that for accountability to be genuine it has to represent an authority which the leader submits to.
In pastoral ministry leaders can be seen to participate in an accountability structure, but it is one they have invited, and one whose parameters they have established.
Friends, it’s too easy to give the appearance of genuine accountability (and get recognition for being accountable) but to have only given account for that which you want to give account and be recognised for.
Maturity in leadership invites accountability, but cedes authority over the accountability structure.


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The Vanilla Slice As A Metaphor For Organisational Culture (via Rhonda Brighton-Hall at MWAH)

Thanks to Byron at the Snot Blog for pointing out this crisp yet creamy comparison between effective organisational culture and vanilla slice.
From the article:

Vanilla Slices, and our quest to find, describe, and prescribe the perfect one, is not dissimilar to our passion for good organisational culture.
You may think that’s a stretch, but let me explain.
The Connection
Vanilla Slices are so simple and clear.
A layer of foundational pastry, a much bigger layer of delicious custard, another layer of pastry to hold shape, and then a slither of icing.
And what is culture?
Foundational standards – emotion and relationships – a top layer of boundaries to hold it all in shape, and a slither of PR.

Read the post at MWAH.


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Group-Centered Leadership (via Dan Hotchkiss)

Dan Hotchkiss observes that churches of a certain size tend toward staff-centered leadership structures. The first advantage of that structure is that they usually depend on one leader, and any disruption to that leader can have an inordinately disruptive effect on the organisation.
He then points out a second, more philosophical disadvantage that resonates with my understanding of how a local church should function.

A second disadvantage of staff-centered structures is a disadvantage only if you believe, as I do, that committed groups are capable of making better decisions than individuals can. I don’t always enjoy group decision-making, but I have found again and again that a community willing to be patient with people’s differences and indecision will correct and improve the insights of even the most gifted individuals. If you agree with me that wide participation adds an essential element to a congregation’s search for truth, then a strictly staff—centered congregation seems wrong. Even if the staff-centered model were always more effective at producing practical results, it would leave me dissatisfied because it does not make use of every member’s gifts for discerning the congregation’s mission. This concern, at bottom, is theological: I think each of us comes with a built-in antenna tuned to the fight frequency to hear the promptings of the Spirit, and congregations ought to take advantage of it. I also believe what people call the “politics” of congregations has a good side because a group in conversation can perceive more about what is good and right than the sum of what its members can perceive alone. For these reasons, I choose congregational participation with its messiness, even though I sometimes envy the efficiency of the staff-centered way.

Dan Hotchkiss, Governance And Ministry, Rowland & Littlefield, 2016, pg 42.


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The Difference Between Feedback And Instruction (via Dan Rockwell)

Reading this post by Dan Rockwell provided a moment of clarity on the difference between feedback and instruction.
Good feedback energises performance, it doesn’t discourage effort.

In a recent workshop, I invited a participant to knock a small box off a stool using a cookie. She stood with her back to the stool and tossed the cookie over her shoulder – without looking. (The cookie was wrapped.)
The audience was instructed to remain silent. The first toss hit the ceiling and dropped about two feet behind her.
Her second attempt flew about half way to the stool. But she couldn’t see where it fell.
I asked the audience to give her feedback. Someone in the second row said, “Throw it harder.” Another said, “Hold your hand a little higher.”

Stop:

I stopped the process and said, “That’s not feedback. That’s instruction. Let’s try again.”
Another participant said, “You were about half way to the target.” I asked her to try again.
The cookie fell short by about a foot. “Give her feedback.”
“Your line is perfect,” someone said. Another responded, “You were about a foot short and too low.”
On her fifth try, she knocked the box off the stool. Everyone exploded with applause.

Read the whole post at Leadership Freak.


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Wisdom In The Timing And Implementation Of Change In An Established Church (via Ron Edmondson)

In a church plant (and, in a more limited way in a revitalisation) the leader has a considerable degree of discretion and control about how things are done.
With an established church, particularly those of smaller to medium size, people have a sense of ownership and partnership that means the introduction of change needs to be processed with wisdom and patience.

In concluding a post on the subject, Ron Edmondson says:

Be strategic in the implementation.

Take your time. Establish trust. Build consensus. Talk to the right people. Even compromise on minor details if necessary. Accommodate special requests if possible and if it doesn’t affect the outcome. Be political if needed.
It’s part of the process, especially in a highly structured environment. (Does that describe any churches you know?)
Structured environments shouldn’t keep you from making the right decisions involving change. They just alter the implementation process.
Knowing this difference provides freedom to visionary pastors and leaders in highly structured environments. You can make the change. You can. You’ll just have to be smarter about how and when you make them.

The only thing I’d add is don’t simply bank up trust and never get around to spending it on needed change.
Sometimes that time of patience can become the status quo that you never emerge from.

Read the whole post at Ron Edmondson.