7 Ways To Create More Time Margin in Your Week

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How do you create more time margin in your week – with an already packed schedule?

Isn’t this a great question?

How do you create more margin – to do the things you want to do and the things you need to do?

Here are a 7 tips to help create more time margin:

Start your day with God.

Of course a pastor would say this, but it is amazing if I start the day talking to God how much it helps me all day. Something about pausing long enough to center my day helps me start in a more productive way.

Prioritize your life.

What do you value most? Without knowing this we find ourselves chasing after many things that have lesser value.

Work smarter.

Most of us form bad habits or have unorganized methods of doing something that waste bulks of our time. Make a list of what you spend the most time doing and see if there are places you can cut.

Schedule times to organize.

Spending an hour or two planning the week will make the whole week more productive. Develop some system of calendaring your week. Usually for me this is the first part of my week. As a result I know where I’m headed and my work space is organized for efficiency. That makes it much easier to handle distractions, which are sure to come.

Don’t say yes to everything and carefully use your no.

Be picky with your time allotment based again on your end priorities and goals. And no is not a bad word.

Schedule down time.

Especially when my boys were younger, I would write time on my calendar for them. This allows you to be there and keeps things and others from filling up your schedule. (I still schedule this time with Cheryl – and, it sounds counterproductive, but we get away even more frequently during busier seasons.)

Evaluate your schedule often.

Plans should not be implemented and then ignored. Develop your plan to create margin in your life, then periodically review the plan to see how you are doing and what needs to be changed.

For some people just reading this is laborsome. I especially encourage those of you geared this way to push through the difficult part of this and give it a try. You will be surprised what a positive difference it will have on your life.

7 Wisdom Nuggets for Church Planters and Ministry Leaders

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I was meeting with a potential church planter and some wisdom nuggets spoken to me or learned over the years flooded my mind. I think they are valuable for all leaders, but especially my friends in ministry.

Some of these were given to me by others. Others were learned firsthand by experience.

7 words for church planters and leaders:

Seek approval among the people to whom God sent you to minister.

All of us need assurance at times from other people what we are doing matters. Church planting is often unpopular among established churches. In a growing established church your critics will be those who resist change inside the building. Either way there will be critics.

This nugget of wisdom was spoken to me by a seasoned church planter. Most likely God didn’t call you so you could be popular – or even to simply satisfy people who already love their church the way it is. He sent you to reach hurting, broken people – to be His witness to a dark world.

My guess is those whom you are reaching are happy with your efforts.

Love God and you’ll love people wherever God sends you.

I just knew Cheryl and I were supposed to plant a church in New York City. It was something I wanted to do and even felt “led” to, at times. But still, there never seemed to be the peace or an opportunity to do so. While walking the streets of NYC one morning, I asked God to give me a clear heart for the people of New York if it was where He wanted us to be.

Then came one of the clearest words from God I’ve ever heard. If I truly love God, I will love the people and have a heart to make disciples among them, wherever I go. I felt released from the burden and freer to serve wherever God placed us next.

Don’t ignore churched people when planting a church.

When I was a new church planter, we ran from anyone who had any church affiliation. They weren’t our target. We didn’t want to offend other churches. In doing so, we robbed ourselves of potential leaders and kept some people from following the ministry God had laid on their heart.

The same is true in the established church. It can’t be all about the “new” people. You have to love the people who are already there. They are your best resource and partners to reach the lost and hurting.

Your spouse may have to trust you even more.

My wife has often known we were supposed to do something, but her heart has often been more tender when it comes to leaving the people we love. Her faith follows quickly, but her heart often lingers with the previous church.

At times, I have had to ask her to trust me, and my walk with Christ, when she can’t seem to force her heart to shift. (You actually can’t force a heart to change.) Unless she has a conviction against moving forward, if she’s willing, it is often helpful if she relies on my logic more than her emotions. Her emotional commitment always follows in time.

Peace often only comes through obedience.

Sometimes the complete peace in a decision doesn’t come until I’ve said “Yes Lord” to what I sense He’s calling me to do. Saying yes, before I have all the assignment or all my questions are answered, seems to open the door for God to bring peace about the move. And, His blessing and glory.

God is not afraid to stir the nest.

Deuteronomy references God and the eagle stirring its nest. I’ve been told (and read) eagles build their nest with the roughest products they can find. Then they cover the structure with the softest, most comfortable material available. A baby eaglet never wants to leave the comfort of home, so to teach them to fly, a mother eagle stirs up the nest, uncovering the roughest part.

Here’s one of my wisdom nuggets I’ve learned the hard way: Don’t be afraid of those times God stirs your nest – they lead to His best for you.

Build/alter DNA slowly.

Once DNA is set, it’s very hard to change it. (My friends in the established church know this one well.) Secure senior leaders slowly. Add staff slowly. Add rules and structure slowly. What you repeat very many times will become tradition quickly and when you try to change it there will be resistance. Make sure it’s something you want in your DNA, before you allow it to get there.

Do you have some wisdom nuggets you’ve learned in ministry leadership?

7 Ways to Encourage a Team to Be More Innovative

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Most leaders want to lead an innovative organization.

If you are like me, you don’t necessarily have to be the first to do something new, but you don’t want to be years behind either. We want to be “cutting edge” to some degree. Certainly, we don’t want to be stuck in the last decade.

But as leaders, we can’t force innovation.

We can’t mandate our people to be innovative. And the longer people haven’t been innovative, the the more difficult it is to get them innovating again.

Innovation, in its purest form means change. Change can be forced upon people, but the best changes come from the heart of a person.

Great innovation comes from the gut.

There are things leaders can do to encourage team members to be more innovative.

Here are a 7 easy ways to encourage innovation:

Get away from the office as a team.

There is something about a change in surroundings which encourages changes in thought. Creative thoughts are often fueled better outside your normal environment.

We have held brainstorming retreats at other churches in our area and local businesses. Again, the change of place often fuels a change of thought.

Have a brainstorming session with open-ended questions.

Questions can be gold for fueling ideas and creativity. Ask questions such as, “What are we doing well?” “Where could we improve?” “What should we stop doing?”

Be sure to welcome diversity of thought. Create an environment where innovation and outside-the-box thinking is acceptable.

Reward new ideas.

Recognize new thoughts and celebrate the success of innovation and people will want more of it. Make it a part of the DNA to elevate the value of innovation.

Make sure to build time to dream into your schedule as a leader. Teams I lead learn soon that when I travel I return with some fresh perspective – even some wild ideas.

Have times together as a team that are simply fun.

Something magical happens when you get people who work together out of the work zone and into a fun zone. They often still talk work – it’s what they share in common – but they share work in a more innovative and productive way.

Remove obstacles to innovative thought.

There are always communication barriers between team members and senior leadership. Discovering and eliminating them could be an innovation waterfall.

One way is to get in the room and have a real problem which needs to be solved and not already have the answers. Let the answers emerge. People love to solve a problem.

Invite new (different) people to the table.

It could be different people on the team or people from the community, but new people equals new ideas. And make sure they are people who may not look like the rest of the team. We’ve often brought staff spouses to the table to fuel our thoughts. The idea here is to glean from other voices.

Set innovation timeline goals.

If you want to eventually build a new website, for example, put a date on the calendar for when it MUST be completed. It’s amazing how creative we often become under a deadline.

What are some ideas you have to encourage innovation?

7 Tips For A Leader To Praise Team Members Well

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Good leaders are appreciative of the people they lead. I must admit, I’m not naturally wired for this. Truth is, I can be guilty of expecting too much from people. I don’t always feel the need to acknowledge “normal” work people do – especially when they are being paid to do it.

All of us enjoy hearing we did a good job. Some people are even fueled by it. So, I’ve learned that offering praise is a necessary part of a leader’s responsibility. We should all do it whether we are wired to or not.

Here are 7 tips for a leader to praise their team:

Be specific

Tell the person in specific rather than general terms what he or she did well. Make sure they know where they are excelling.

Be honest

Make it genuine. False praise is easily recognized and seldom appreciated.

Be intentional 

Some of us have to discipline this into our leadership. That’s okay. It’s worth it. Don’t assume the person receives enough praise. (I try to observe and intentionally praise at least 2 or 3 people per week among staff and volunteers.)

Be timely

People shouldn’t have to wait long after a job is done well to receive praise for it. 

Be creative

Find unique ways to offer praise. Send a handwritten note. Give an extra day off. Recognize them in front of others. And, of course, don’t forget the personal, face-to-face approach. 

Be unique

Don’t say the same thing everyone else is saying or the same thing to every person. Find the thing or aspect to praise that no one else has noted.

Be helpful 

Offer praise which helps the person recognize strengths and encourages them in that area.

It does take intentionality to be an appreciative leader. Our staff would probably tell you I have much work to do. I would have to agree with them. But I do recognize the value and keep striving to improve.

7 Ways to Motivate Leaders on Your Team

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Do you ever struggle to keep the keep the leaders on your team motivated? How do you motivate a leader?

Certainly, you want the maximum potential out of the team. You want their best contributions to your team. Learning how to motivate leaders on your team is a critical step in leading well.

It may not be as difficult as you may think. Most leader-types share some common traits. They may lead entirely different – they may have different causes and interests, but most leaders are motivated by similar influences.

7 ways to motivate leaders on your team:

Give them a challenge to meet

If you tell a leader it “can’t be done” expect to see some motivation accelerate. Most leaders love to strive for the impossible. Give them something that seems out of their reach and you are likely to get them on board.

Celebrate results

When leaders celebrate a win, it fuels their desire for another. Leaders thrive on accomplishment. Something in the DNA of a leader loves to win.

Share enthusiasm

Paint an exciting and compelling vision and you’ve likely got a leader’s attention. (This is also why you have to continually repeat the vision.)

Involve some risk

Tell a leader something is “risky” and he or she may be motivated to attempt it. Leaders love a challenge. In fact, one way to tell the difference in a potential good leader and a good manager (we need both) is the amount of risk they are willing to assume.

Embrace change

Leaders, by definition, are creators of movement. When things get stale, throw a little change in the mix and a leader has a new incentive to lead. When a leader gets too comfortable they get bored. They’d often rather live with drama than staleness or routine.

Invite chaos 

It sounds strange, but even a little controversy or conflict can fuel a leader. When the situation is overwhelming a leader goes to work. Leaders love to fix things – improve them – make things better. It may even be messy along the way. (Which is also why every good leader needs a good manager.)

Have big dreams

Leaders are visionary. They want to accomplish something bigger than today. The bigger the dream, the bigger the motivation for the leader.

In my opinion, it is useless to have leaders on your team if you don’t lead them lead or use them to their full potential. If you want to get the most out of a leader – you have to learn how to motivate them and keep them motivated.

Are you a leader? Which of these motivate you most?

A Life Principle My Father Taught Me – That All Leaders Need Today

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My father was probably the most bottom line guy I have known. One of his most quotable lines was, “The main thing is don’t get excited.” If anyone was tempted to stress about an issue he would interject this often repeated line.

There have been many times I have needed to remember those words.

Another phrase he used often may be even more poignant for our day. Perhaps you need this one – for what you are facing – or fear you may face.

It is what it is.

And, you know, it really is what it is.

In other words, you can’t change it now. That’s a fact, Jack.

There is a Bible verse which always comes to mind. This may be one of my favorites.

If clouds are full of water, they pour rain on the earth. Whether a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where it falls, there it will lie. (Ecclesiastes 11:3)

It is what it is.

When the clouds are full – it rains.

When the tree falls – there it is.

Admitting “it is what it is” allows you to quit complaining and actually begin to figure out how you will live with the reality you are facing.

You didn’t get the job promotion. It is what it is.
The business failed. It is what it is.
The pandemic happened. It is what it is.

Where do you need to admit it is what it is?

Perhaps your marriage is in trouble. Maybe you have a spending problem. You’ve let your weight get out of control. Perhaps you’ve been a lousy friend. It could be you are in over your head and don’t know what to do about it.

Insert yours here __________________.

But whatever it is:

It is what it is.

The first step in moving forward is often to admit the reality you’ve been denying or trying to ignore. Now that you’ve admitted what it is you can ask more important questions, such as – What are you going to do about it?

Because where you’re going is far more important than where you’ve been or even where you are currently.

7 Ways to Stay Sane in Church Revitalization

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The first few years of church revitalization were hard. I’ve told people they were some of the hardest years of my career. I had to learn how to remain sane.

But we survived.

And even thrived. Now I have the opportunity to speak to thousands of pastors attempting revitalization.

I have learned there may be a few secrets to lasting through the hard days of revitalization.

7 secrets to staying sane in church revitilization:

Dogmatically protect your time.

Established churches will eat your calendar if you’re not intentional. I needed to focus my energies in a few key places. There will always be interruptions, but I needed sufficient time to plan, meditate on Scriptures, and prepare for Sunday.

Someone else controls my calendar.

It is easier for someone else to say no. And no was said a lot. In order to be strategic, I had to control my calendar if it wasn’t an emergency and delegate all that I could to other staff members.

(I realize some pastors don’t have staff to rely on like I did, but many of the requests I received could have also been handled by a volunteer.)

Don’t cower to the few bullies.

There are always a few people who will try to derail anything positive taking place. Most people don’t like change, especially if it makes them personally uncomfortable. But you can’t allow a few people to dictate the direction of the church.

Save encouragements.

In my experience, people complain more fluently than they take the time to encourage. So, I have a file to save encouraging notes and emails. This was incredibly helpful in days where there seemed to be more negativity. Reading through this file reminded me there are people who supported us.

Pick battles carefully.

Some things are simply not worth the fight. Plus, I didn’t want to steal the culture from the church in the process of revitalizing it. Not everything needed changing and some things I could live with even if they never did.

Pace myself.

We couldn’t do everything at once. I tried to focus on no more than two or three major objectives at a time. We took up to a year to make most of the major changes. Staying sane in church revitalization requires a long term approach.

Slip away frequently.

I knew going in I wanted to protect my marriage and my heart. During the busiest and most stressful seasons, Cheryl and I took more time away – not less. I was working plenty, but I knew we needed this time. These times refueled me to continue the journey.

Here’s to you staying sane in church revitalization. If I can help you through my coaching or consulting ministry, please let me know.

5 Unique Coaching and Consulting Offerings from Ron Edmondson

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One way my coaching and consulting is unique in that I don’t come to you with a script. I can create a script, but have never found that as helpful when someone does that for me. Therefore, I coach like I lead, which means I let you write the script. 

But I have a few unique offerings.

I’m especially interested in helping you with:

Pastor/Minister Search Teams 

I love the work several friends of mine do at search firms. Still, I know a number of churches prefer to do their own search. This is where I might be able to help. I have worked with several churches now through this process and saved them money as well as time. I know the questions to ask and the right way to conduct a search. (Plus, with my network, I can likely improve the quality and quantity of your candidates.) 

Revitalization Coach 

I have had the honor of leading two successful church revitalization initiatives. Additionally, through my consulting and coaching I have worked with dozens of other churches through the process. Along the way I’ve learned a few things.  

Transitions Coach 

I’ve begun a lot of new positions and hired a lot of people. The way a person begins often determines their success long-term. 

First Impressions 

I have experience looking for churches. And it is hard! If you mess up a first impression you will have a hard time getting people to connect with the church.

Second-Wind Coaching 

People my age (56) – and even younger and older – are trying to figure out how to finish well in ministry. You’re not looking for a succession plan. Instead, you are wondering how best to “ramp up” in your last years. I can help you figure out how to leave your best legacy. 

I’m told often that the best way I help people is to cause them to ask bigger and better questions. Let me know if I can help you. 

Of course, I offer general coaching and consulting in church planting and church revitalization. Again, I don’t come with a script. I base my work around you. If my 35 plus years of leadership experience can help you, your church or organization, I would be honored. 

Send me an email to Ron.Edmondson@gmail.com to start the conversation. 

12 Bible Verses to Encourage Christian Leaders

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The Psalmist said, “I have hidden your word in my heart so I might not sin against you.” God’s Word can be a protection for our heart and soul. It can teach us, convict us, and challenge us.

The same is true for Christian leaders. The best leadership book is the Bible.

Here are 12 great Bible verses for Christian leaders:

Luke 6:31 Do to others as you would like them to do to you.

How much more successful would our organizations be if all of us approached each other in this way? Leaders, the culture of teams we lead will be greatly shaped by the example we set for them.

Philippians 2:3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.

I’m convinced humility might be the most attractive leadership quality there is these days.

Proverbs 4:23 Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

Leadership is ultimately a product of the heart we have for others and the vision we’ve been called to lead. The heart impacts passion, motivation and tenacity.

Exodus 18:21 You will need to appoint some competent leaders who respect God and are trustworthy and honest. Then put them over groups of 10, 50, 100, and 1,000.

Don’t try to do it all. Surround yourself with capable people of integrity – empower, delegate – and get out of their way and let them lead.

Psalm 78:72 With upright heart he shepherded them and guided them with his skillful hand.

I love the imagery of a shepherd as leader. My friend, Larry Osborne, wrote a great book about the subject.

Matthew 20:26 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant.

Great leaders see it as their main ambition to help others achieve worthy goals they might not achieve on their own. “When you win, I win, and we all win!”

Philippians 2:4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

It can’t only be “my way”. Leaders must be open to listening to the desires of others and incorporating them into the overall goals and objectives of the organization.

Matthew 5:37 Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

Genuine honesty and transparency in leadership is rare, but so, so valuable – and effective.

John 3:30 He must become greater; I must become less.

Biblical leaders recognize the ultimately glory belongs to God.

Galatians 6:9 So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

I have seen many leaders give up on something just before there would have been a turnaround – whether on a project, a passion or a person. Looking back on my leadership career I’ve done this many times.

Isaiah 41:10 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

On days you are discouraged, overwhelmed, or feel everything is a loss – remember God is with you. He is walking beside you. Nothing is impossible with God.

1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Leadership is hard. Don’t attempt it alone.

Challenge:

Perhaps you should choose one or two of these – write them down somewhere you’ll see them often, and commit them to memory.

What other verses would you recommend to leaders?