7 Indicators You’re Not Really on a Team

By | Church, Leadership | 2 Comments

In my world, the word team is used almost on a daily basis. Most of us want to be in a team environment. However, in my experience working with churches – and it was true when I was in business also – more people claim to have a team than actually do.

There are a few signs I look for when someone tells me they have a team environment.

7 indicators it’s really not a team:

One person makes all the decisions.

Most who think they have a true team culture will skip this one, because many times they don’t see it happening. But if everyone has to wait for one person or a committee to make a decision – it is probably less of a team than proposed. On a team everyone sits in a seat of authority. There is a mutual trust and empowerment of others.

Everyone doesn’t have a key role.

On a real team – all players are needed. They may not all play the same amount of time and they fill different positions, because everyone is valued.

There are multiple agendas.

One thing which makes it a team is everyone is playing for the same objective. Without this there is more competition than cooperation.

Communication is controlled.

Teams share information. They continually update one another on what they are individually contributing to the team and weigh in on decisions. Team dynamics are damaged when only a few people know everything or most decisions are made for the team – outside the team.

Conflict is seen as a threat.

Healthy teams work through conflict and remain cooperative and supportive of one another. Everyone is allowed to challenge ideas and offer opposition.

Every person is for themselves.

The greatest value of a team is in the collective wisdom and shared workload. When teams function more as individuals than as a team, members can become overwhelmed, frustrated and eventually burnout.

Celebration is always received individually not collectively.

There will always be moments where one member is getting more recognition than another. But, on healthy teams, wins are celebrated together. No one claims personal credit for the victories.

Those are a few clues which tell me it’s really not a team. You can call it what you want – could be a group, or an association, or even an organization.

But it’s not a team.

It should be noted. There are times when we don’t need a team. We need a leader who will stand even if alone and lead people to places they can’t yet see but where they need to go. I have found those times to be rare when I have a healthy team.

(If I can help your “group” better become a team, please let me know.)

My “System” For Handling Difficult People in the Church

By | Church, Church Revitalization, Leadership | 2 Comments

I was talking with a pastor that I coach recently. He asked me how I handle difficult people in the church. I assured him I didn’t know what he was talking about. I’ve never encountered any difficult people in the church. 

After a good laugh, I explained my “system” for dealing with difficult people, which has developed over years of leading. I never put words around them, but those words came to me as we talked. 

Here is my three part “system” for dealing with difficult people:

Love them

I think we have to start here as people of faith. We are called to love everyone. Yes, it is hard sometimes to love extremely difficult people. Frankly, I’ve encountered people in the church I would even label “mean”. There have been a few I’ve sincerely questioned their salvation at times. I don’t know how a Christian could talk to people or about people as I’ve heard some do. 

But I l have learned, especially in church revitalization work, that if I can’t love people I can’t lead them. Jesus even told us to love our enemies, didn’t He? Years ago, the Lord gently nudged me that if I’m loving Him as I should be I will love everyone in our church. So, in every church where I’ve served, I’ve almost had a standard-bearer for this principle. I know if I’m not able to love them I need to check my heart.

And I should mention that part of loving people is listening to them – with the intent to understand. Many times difficult people just want to be heard.  

Level with them

I have learned not to sugarcoat or gloss over difficult people’s actions. I’m not loving people if I allow them to act in unbiblical ways. Instead, I need to be honest with them. I view it as a part of discipleship. I have had to say to people, “Did you know the tone of your emails are harsh?” I’ve had to challenge some people who verbally attack a staff member. 

One New Testament theme appears to me to be unity in the Body. I am not afraid, therefore to challenge gossipers, harsh attitudes or power mongering if it is going to be disruptive to the church and its mission.  

Lead them

Obviously, Jesus is the leader of the church, but He has empowered some of us to serve in leadership positions. I know part of my role is to move people in a direction towards our mission. As pastor, I can’t allow a few difficult people to hijack the church or it’s progress. I’m not at all claiming that is easy, and it takes years of learning to do this well, but the work of the church is too important not to lead the church forward in advancing the Gospel. 

That’s an overview of how I deal with difficult people. Hope it helps you. 

(By the way, I’m opening some new opportunities in my calendar to coach and consult. If you want to talk about how I might help you or your church/organization, please email me at Ron.edmondson@gmail.com)  

3 Things to Know About The Future of Church Staffing

By | Church, Church Planting, Church Revitalization | No Comments

(This is a guest post written by my friend Matt Lombardi. Matt has launched a new company called Shaar that I believe has great potential to help churches and ministers, by providing freelancers for every area of ministry. Check them out HERE.)

If you’re a pastor, I’m positive you’ve been bombarded with more articles and resources about reopening than you can read in the next 5 years. Your services are infinitely more complicated, but you’re still being pressured to maintain an online presence. And there are also millions of articles on that, if you’re interested.

If you feel like you are working double time, you are. You are effectively running two Churches.

We are all still in ministry for the same reasons: Spread the Good News. Make disciples. While the “Why” of the Church has not changed, the “How” certainly has. 

So how is the Church going to function in the future?

Here are 3 things to consider to help you put that into perspective. 

1. The future is online.

If you haven’t given much thought to how you stream your services, use social media or create content to be viewed online, you should probably start. These things are likely going to expand. This is an opportunity for the Church. 

People can engage with our Church from all over the world. They can interact with the Church on a daily basis. People can connect with the message of Christ in a variety of ways. 

You might find your employees online or find freelance work online. There may even be interviews online via video before people ever come into your Church. You might look up your candidate’s LinkedIn profile instead of their resume. 

2. The future is distributed. 

Distributed means that your team may not all work from the same place. Some or all of your team might be remote.

Distributed means that the Church receptionist may take calls for the Church while she’s home with her kids. Remote meetings might happen on a video conference instead of in person. Much of the work that people did sitting at a desk in the Church, they will do from their home office or the kitchen table or the park. 

Distributed means that the Church can fully function and fulfill its mission without meeting in person. That’s not to say the Church won’t meet in person. It means that someone who would not be able to attend your physical meetings could find your Church online and be fed without needing to step into the building. 

3. The future is project-based.

This may sound like a weird one.

Things like websites, graphics, social media posts, videos, podcasts and written content are being used to accomplish the mission of the Church. Preparation for a video is different than when you just show up to preach a sermon. There is an extra workflow that needs to happen to complete that project. 

While Churches will always need pastors and support leadership, they may not be able to afford someone on staff to deal with the project needs of the Church. That’s where the gig economy comes to the Church’s rescue with freelance solutions. When you have a project, you outsource it to get exactly what you need done by a professional in that field.

Recently our team at Shaar launched a huge study into the Future of Church Staffing. We’re looking at trends in how the church will “go to work” in the days ahead. Shaar is diving deeper into topics like remote work, how churches look to staff up in the digital space, and how churches prioritize tech-driven skill sets. By the way, we are randomly giving away Amazon gift cards to participants.

To participate in the study, follow THIS LINK.

10 Prayers You Should Pray For Your Marriage

By | Christians, Church, Prayer | No Comments

Do you believe in prayer? And do you love your marriage? Well here are some suggestions for praying for your marriage.

10 Prayers For Marriages:

Dear Lord,

Grow our love for You daily.

Help us to love each other unconditionally.

Allow us to respect one another in an empowering way.

Teach us how to complete each other, building us into one unit You design.

Rid our hearts from grudges or bitterness towards one another, teaching us to forgive readily and extend grace continually.

Let us encourage each other to achieve the dreams you give us individually and jointly.

Keep us humble, placing each other’s needs ahead of our own.

Guard our hearts from selfishness and self-centered desires.

Protect our marriage from the destruction of outside influences.

Make our commitment deeper than our emotions, stronger than the seasons of change and the trials which will come our way.

If only one of those prayers is answered, how is your marriage strengthened?

The Fine Print of Ministry Leadership – What they CAN’T Teach in Seminary

By | Church, Church Planting, Church Revitalization, Leadership | No Comments

“The secret things belong to the Lord our God…” Deuteronomy 29:29

Make your plans.

Work your plans.

That’s good leadership.

I’m an advocate of strategic leadership. I don’t believe the church should run from leadership. We need it, just as does any other organization of people. God uses men and women to lead His people. You can see it throughout the Bible.

Without a vision, the people perish. (Proverbs 29:18)

In his heart a man plans his course. (Proverbs 16:9)

For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost“? (Luke 14:28)

“Aaron and Moses were from this tribe. And they are the men the Lord spoke to and said, “Lead my people out of Israel in groups.” (Exodus 6:26)

With the best you know how to hear from God, make plans accordingly. God really does use the minds He created for His glory.

But make all the great plans you want and if you’re a leader you should know the “secret things belong to God“.

I’ve always loved the Deuteronomy verse because it comes at the end of God renewing His covenant with His people. He promises to be with them, bless them and carry them safely forward as they obey Him.

At the end of His encouragement, we find this verse. The secret things belong to God.

Isn’t that true in your life?

If this year has taught us anything as leaders it is that we can’t prepare for every thing that will happen in our leadership. Seminary (or graduate school) couldn’t adequately prepare us for this. Every day is a new opportunity for something unusual to happen.

I’m working my plans – the best I know how – and seemingly out of no where God allows a surprise to come my way. I didn’t see it coming.

I must adapt accordingly. It’s scary. Uncomfortable. It stretches me.

But, after the dust settles and I’m allowed to lift my head long enough, I see where He was always working. It has been in those secret moments where God has always seemed to do some if His best work in my life. I am reminded again that His strength is perfect in my weakness.

Christian leader, always be attentive to the still small voice and give God room to interrupt your plans. Always. Don’t be afraid of the fine print of the Christian life. Some of God’s best work for us is found there.

The People Doing the Work – A Leadership Principle

By | Church, Church Revitalization, Leadership, Organizational Leadership | No Comments

I have a number of pet peeves in leadership. Leadership is hard. But there are some principles in leadership, which simply need to be adhered to for good leadership.

Let me share a story as an illustration of one of my pet peeves.

Years ago, I had a boss tell me who to place on my team. He told me how to conduct sales meetings with my department. Then he told me what each person’s assignments would be. Finally, he told me how to conduct the meeting – going as far as to write out my agenda.

He wasn’t going to be at the meeting. In fact, he didn’t actually know the people on my team. He was holding me accountable for results in sales, yet he continually gave me a script for how to do my job. I had to turn in reports, which indicated I had followed his agenda.

I hated it. It made me feel so controlled. My team, with whom I was very open and honest, were frustrated. And I can say this now, but when I could, I secretly altered things to script my own way. Maybe it was rebellion – okay, it was rebellion, but I never thought he was practicing good leadership. And I experienced direct results in employee morale. (I eventually quit.)

Here’s the principle, which developed from this experience.

If you aren’t going to be doing the work, don’t script how it’s done.

As a leader, you can share what you want accomplished. That’s vision-casting.

You can set reasonable boundaries. This actually helps fuel creativity.

You can share your thoughts and ideas. It’s helpful. You probably have good ones.

You can monitor progress. This is your responsibility.

You should hold people accountable for progress. It ensures completion.

But the people who are actually doing the work

The ones carrying out the plans – Getting their hands dirty –

Should determine how the actual work gets completed.

10 Tips for Helping Your Spouse Transition to Your New Work Life

By | Church, Family, Leadership | One Comment

In a previous post, I wrote about the emotions of a pastor or leader’s spouse during a time of ministry transition. You will need to read the post HERE for this post to make complete sense.

This post has always resonated with readers dealing with this issue.

In coaching leaders through transitions, they often want to know how they can help their spouse transition well.

I don’t have all the answers, but I have some. We’ve certainly done this in our marriage.

Here are 10 ways to help your spouse in a job transfer:

Celebrate what they are doing

Many times your excitement will seem to diminish what your spouse is doing. I was talking to a young pastor who was experiencing great success in a new church. At the same time, his wife was caring for their children. I reminded him that changing diapers on the children he loves is just as powerful. He knew that, but he needed a reminder to celebrate this fact.

Help them explore and pace themselves

Eventually, the spouse needs to find their own identity. It will take time. Allow them the freedom to do so, even if this means you have to keep the children or do other responsibilities so they can.

Don’t lock them into your world

Don’t dictate their ministry. My wife and I are partners, but she is not me. Nor am I her. Her interests and mine are different. And it’s okay. It’s actually by design. She makes me better. And, in a much smaller way I’m sure, I make her better.

Listen to your spouse

This is always important, but even more so in times of stress or change. You’ll be busier than ever. But your spouse will need you – more than ever. Listen. The practice will serve you and your marriage in the days ahead.

Let them grieve

They may mourn over the separation from friends. Especially if it was your job for which you moved, they may be more likely to miss the old house. They may complain at times the supermarket isn’t as easy to navigate or the conveniences of the city are not as good. It’s a part of the acclimating process. Give it time.

Be conscious

It won’t be the same. It probably never will be. Each of your roles will be different. You will have different friends. Your schedules may be altered and routines will change. Be conscious this creates stress in people and relationships.

Be present when home

When you finally get home – be fully home. Shut down. Have some times where you quit everything work related and be with your family. Give your family the attention they deserve.

Celebrate your new area

Explore the new city together. Discover the hidden gems and be a tourist for a while. (I once wrote a post about how to acclimate to a new city HERE.)

Keep your spouse informed

They will naturally feel somewhat isolated from your exciting new world. Don’t promote this emotion because you’ve excluded them from it. Make them feel a part of things as much as you can by giving her details of your day. I realize requires more patience, but during transition the spouse needs to be even more a part of your day they missed.

Be patient

It may take longer for your spouse to acclimate to the new environment than you think it should. This is okay. Your spouse is not you. Don’t expect them to respond to change the same way you would.

Those are my suggestions. If you’re in a time of transition, for the good of your marriage and yourself – be intentional!

8 Things That Kill Motivation and Momentum

By | Church Revitalization, Leadership, Organizational Leadership | 2 Comments

I have found that regardless of how motivated I am, if the people around me are unmotivated, we aren’t going to be very successful as a team.

This is why it is important a leader learns to recognize when a team is decreasing in motivation.

And here’s the greater reason.

Motivation is often a catalyst for momentum.

When a team loses motivation, momentum is certain to suffer loss. It’s far easier to motivate a team, in my opinion, than it is to build momentum in an organization.

So, as leaders, we must learn what destroys motivation.

Here are 8 killers of motivation and, ultimately, momentum:

Routine – When people have to do the same activity repeatedly for too long they eventually lose interest in it. This is especially true in a day where rapid change is all around them. Allowing people to change how they do the work needs to be a built-in part of the organization.

Fear – When people are afraid, they stop taking risks. They fail to give their best effort and stop trying. Fear keeps a team from moving forward. Leaders can remove fear by welcoming mistakes, lessening control and celebrating each step.

Success – A huge win or a period of success can lead to complacency. When the team feels they’ve “arrived” they may no longer feel the pressure to keep learning. When leaders begin to recognize this they should provide new opportunities and introduce greater challenges or risks.

Lack of direction – People need to know what a win looks like – according to the leader. When people are left to wonder, they lose motivation, do nothing or make up their own answers. As leaders, we should continually pause to make sure our team understands what they are being asked to do.

Failure – Some people can’t get past a failure. As leaders, we sometimes fail to accept failure as a part of building success. Failure should be used to build motivation. As a person strives to recover, lessons are learned, which can help the team.

Apathy – A team that loses their passion for the vision will experience a decline in motivation. That’s why leaders must consistently cast vision. Leader, you should be a cheerleader; encouraging others with a high level of enthusiasm for the vision.

Burnout – When a team or team member has no opportunity to rest, they can’t maintain motivation. Good leaders learn when to push to excel and when to push to relax. Everyone needs to pause occasionally to re-energize.

Feeling under-valued – When someone feels their contribution to the organization isn’t viewed as important, they lose the motivation to continually produce. Leaders must learn to be encouraging and appreciative of the people they lead.

If you see any of these at work in your organization, address them now!

The problem with all of these is that we often don’t recognize them when they are killing motivation. In fact, we fail to see them until momentum has begun to suffer. Many times this makes it hard or, at times, too late to fully recover.

7 Suggestions for 50+ Year-Old Leaders to Find a Second Wind

By | Church, Church Revitalization, Leadership, Life Plan | 9 Comments

Here’s a reality I came to a year of so ago. We have placed so much energy investing in the next generation of leaders that we’ve left a ton of leaders my age wondering how to remain relevant and useful. 

Several experiences led to this discovery. Here’s one example. 

Personal.

I am 56 years old and hope to work at least another 15 years. And I said “at least”. If I’m going strong I hope to go even longer. 

A chance encounter.

I was at a conference representing Leadership Network. We were doing good stuff working with the next generation of leaders. We had just announced a new initiative with a super-sharp millennial group. I believed in it and was excited about it.

After a session, I was stopped by a pastor about my age. He posed a serious question. He commented on the new millennial group and then asked, “What about me? I’m 55. Who’s going to help me figure out the next phase of my life? I’m not ready to talk about transition. Do I need to get some skinny jeans or what?” 

Wow! His question stung a little. He was only semi-joking.

It stung in two ways. First, because we are the same age. Second, he was right. Most of our energy as an organization – and really Kingdom-wide – was/is on the next generation of leaders. Again, I believe in it, but many pastors and leaders our age and older still have an incredible amount to offer. 

We could expect them to be mentors now – simply give back – and while they certainly should all of us need people pouring into us – at every age. (And, likewise, we all need to be pouring into others.)

So, I told him to get some skinny jeans. Just kidding. Please don’t.

But that conversation started a new ministry in my mind. I began calling it “Second Wind Ministry“. I actually own a domain by that name.

I’ve helped lots of churches find their “second wind” through church revitalization. Could I actually help some leaders do the same? 

Here’s the deal. Many people my age – and older – aren’t looking at transition yet. They aren’t thinking succession yet. We probably should be, but we are thinking more about how to finish strong.  

Like my pastor friend, I want to ramp up not slow down.

I was sharing these thoughts with a 70 year-old man in ministry and he said, “Heck, I’m 70 and I think I feel I’m just getting started.” That’s who I want to be in 14 more years. 

I’m still getting started with this second wind ministry idea, but let me share some initial thoughts. 

Here are 7 suggestions for finding your second wind: 

Admit the need.

You’re not as “relevant” as you used to be. That’s okay. In actuality, you’re likely relevant in some ways you can’t even imagine. You have things to offer the world you didn’t have 20 years ago. Don’t be afraid to admit what you don’t know.

Know who you are.

Don’t try to be anyone other than you. This is a season where you have tested a few things. You’ve had failure and success. What were you good at doing? Where did you stink? Hone your best skills. You were uniquely designed for a definite purpose. You’ve likely taught that principle to others. Discover and live it for yourself.

Keep learning new things.

Always be teachable and always be learning. Even more than ever before, if you’re not reinventing yourself every few years you’re behind. Commit to learn something new. 

Personally, I hope to be a life-long learner. I have two masters degrees and am hoping to finally finish my doctoral dissertation in the next year. Then I want to learn to speak another language. Stretch your mind. 

Become a people-builder.

You have something to give back. Invest what you’ve learned in others. Celebrate other people’s success. The fact is the more you share what you know with others the more valuable you become to all of us. It truly is your “best life”. 

Plan your legacy.

How will you be remembered? More importantly, how do you want to remembered? How close are those answers to each other? If they’re not close enough what changes do you need to make now to bring them closer?

My father made some mistakes in life. He spent the last couple of years of his life intentionally trying to make right all his close relationships. That tremendously improved his legacy in my mind. 

Take some new risks.

I said earlier we all need mentors. One of mine is 82 years old. He is still going strong. When he was 80 he was talking about a new business he wanted to start. He’s still “working on it” today. He sat with me recently and asked what we could do radically different to impact the Kingdom. That’s who I want to be when I grow up someday. 

Leave when it’s time.

This is the hardest one to write, but sometimes we stay too long. I can’t tell you how many stories I know of pastors and leaders who think they should have left a few years earlier. 

By the way, that doesn’t mean they should do nothing. It could mean they do something their whole life has prepared them to do. They couldn’t have done it without the years of experience – success and failures – that have shaped them into who they are today. 

Second wind ministry.

I know there’s a need. If my coaching/consulting can help you think through finding your second wind – at your church or personally – please let me know. 

A Secret Learned in Church Revitalization – (This is HUGE)

By | Church, Church Revitalization, Leadership | 2 Comments

Some of the most vocal opponents to changes we made in church revitalization were simply rule-followers. That’s huge insight. Don’t miss this. 

These people liked to know we were obeying the written and approved structure of the church. When we didn’t follow them exactly they objected. Sometimes loudly. Often in ALL CAPS.

Let me give you one example. (I’m changing a couple of minor details just to protect identities, but the story is true and principles the same.)

I once wanted to hire a staff member. Personally, I believe the senior pastor should be able to build a team. I realize rules don’t always accommodate that, but this was a church in need of serious revitalization. The only way I could see forward was to have some new faces on the team.

The “rules” of the church (some of them unwritten) said I had to form a committee, begin a search process, take the final candidate to the personnel committee, then deacons, then set up interviews with the church, and then get a church vote. (I’m exhausted just typing all that – and we’ve likely lost a good candidate at this point.) 

This job required unique skills. I knew from experience it would not be an easy position to fill and time was of the essence. Plus, I had someone very qualified I was ready to hire. 

I convinced leadership to move forward and we hired the person. 

And that is when we discovered the objectors. Granted, it was from a few people, but they were very vocal. The most frequent complaint was the ole familiar, “We’ve never done things like that before.” They didn’t think we were following the written (or sometimes unwritten) rules. 

That’s when I discovered the secret. 

Here’s the story to explain how: 

I had one guy who carried the policy manual for hiring procedures in his suit coat pocket on Sunday mornings. (It was thick, so it was hard to hide.) One day, after several tense encounters about the hire we had made, I had a revelation. He kept mentioning those policies. So, I asked him, “George (not his real name), are you upset because of who we hired or because of the way we hired him?” 

He then told me he was upset because we hadn’t followed the rules. I then asked him, “George, so if we changed the rules to the way we just did this hire and then hired someone else you’d be okay?” He said, “Yes, because that would be the rules.” 

Then it hit me. This is the HUGE secret. 

Many times the objectors to change aren’t objecting to the change. They are simply objecting to the fact that you aren’t following the rules.

Often if you change the rules and – and follow them – they’ll support you.

Maybe you don’t need to complain about the rules you have – or try to go around them – perhaps you simply need to write better rules. 

And when you do – people may better support the change. 

Granted, this won’t be the case every time, but since this occasion I’ve found it to be so a number of times. It’s certainly worth considering.