Breaking Through the Glass Ceiling for Pastors

shattered glass
GabPRR – Flickr

What do you do when your church is growing and your responsibilities are increasing?

There are only two options: You either hire another staff member, or get better at distributing your work. If you don’t do either, then there will be a glass ceiling that will forever haunt you. I answered the former solution in an earlier post, so today we’ll look at the importance of distributing your work.

I love this quote by Sun Tzu from The Art of War:

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

To paraphrase, if you know your enemy, you’ll win 50% of the time, but if you know yourself, you’ll win the other half.

How often do we spend all our time reading the latest strategies and methods for leadership and ministry, while neglecting the important task of learning what kind of leader God has made us to be? This reminds me of that old Hebraic tale of Rabbi Zusya and Moses: When he was an old man, Zusya said, “In the coming world, they will not ask me: ‘Why were you not Moses?’ They will ask me: ‘Why were you not Zusya?’”

The reason we would rather live someone else’s story, than discover our own, is because introspection is hard work.

However, unless you discover how God has uniquely wired you, then you’ll never know your unique kingdom contribution, and that glass ceiling will follow you everywhere.

So let’s get back to that original question, what do you do when your church is growing and your responsibilities are increasing?

Well, first of all, you better not take it all on yourself! That only leads to burnout. So you need to get better at delegation.

There’s a fork in the road at this point. There are some who believe that you need to surround yourself with a team and let them choose what they want to do, while you get the scraps. While this may sound servant-like and altruistic, it’s actually foolish. Play this out for a bit. If you keep on giving away the things that you do best and the things that give you life, where do you think you’ll end up? That’s right. Burnout. Again.

Instead, you actually need to ask yourself two questions: What are the leadership responsibilities unique to my role? And how do my strengths line up with those tasks? Answering both questions will take a lot of time, but the first question is pretty straightforward since you just need to write out all of your responsibilities and tasks, and then systematically cross out the ones that others can do. You will then be left with a list of responsibilities and tasks that you and only you can uniquely do. Answering the second question is much harder work though, since it requires introspection. However, once you discover your strengths and how they line up with your responsibilities and tasks, you will have essentially carved out a role for yourself that plays to your strengths, while managing your weaknesses. The beauty of this rationale is that your weaknesses are actually going to be someone else’s strengths.

So how do you discover your strengths? How do you discover the way that God has uniquely wired you? How do you determine the unique kingdom contribution that you have been designed to make?

First of all, take a moment and do some introspection by answering these questions:

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Crowdfunding, Kickstarter, and The Future of Training Church Planters

 *My post here was originally published on April 9, 2015 in Christianity Today.

What if there was a more effective way to train church planters? A way that focused on developing competencies and skills rather than the memorization of steps?

church planting program spectrum

Every church planting program falls somewhere along this spectrum between a heavy emphasis on the classroom or field experience. Both are necessary, but there are weaknesses with an either/or approach. On the one hand, an over-emphasis on the classroom assesses one on their knowledge, rather than their ability to actually put their knowledge to action. On the other hand, an over-emphasis on field experience tends to be isolated to one particular method of doing ministry in a contextualized context, which may or may not guarantee success when the context of ministry changes.

As much as most church planting programs recognize the necessity for a both/and approach, most are just simply requiring both classroom and field experience time, rather than discovering a way to integrate them together.

Enter: Crowdfunding.

By now, crowdfunding, Kickstarter and Indiegogo are household names. Since 2009, over 8.3 million people have pledged $1.6 billion to 82,000 projects on Kickstarter. Also, over 15 million people from 224 countries visit Indiegogo a month. The most well known crowdfunded initiatives are arguably the Pebble smart watchOculus Rift and Hoverboards (yes, I did say hoverboards). Each of these initiatives started as an idea, and as a result of crowdfunding, they turned into reality. Crowdfunding touched a soft spot in my heart when LeVar Burton brought Reading Rainbow back to the world when over 100,000 people pledged $5+ million to it.

What if this was a part of their core curriculum? After all, where else would a potential planter have the real life opportunity to innovate, collaborate, cast vision, create momentum, and raise funds before they planted a church and had to actually innovate, collaborate, cast vision, create momentum, and raise funds for their church? Crowdfunding would be the perfect way to mix classroom and field experience time for a church planter. Essentially, by requiring the church planter to crowdfund an idea, you would be cross-training them in many of the same areas required to plant and lead a church. (Obviously there’s more to planting and leading a church than the skills required in crowdfunding, but there are many overlapping areas.)

Imagine if crowdfunding was part of the training ground and litmus test to see if an individual had the core competencies to plant and lead a church?

Not only would you be able to identify actual strength and growth areas in the planter, by which you could create a plan of development around, but with successful crowdfunded initiatives, you would also be creating an additional revenue stream that could be used to further fuel and fund church planting efforts.

When researching successful crowdfunded initiatives, I discovered five common traits: [Read more…]

Exponential East 2015 – Leadership Seminars

If you’re going to be at Exponential East 2015 at the end of April 2015, I’d love to meet up with you and connect! In fact, here are the four leadership seminars that I’ll be leading while I’m there.

Workshop Session 1: Using Technology to Unleash a Culture of Multiplication
This isn’t about Twitter, Facebook, or Google Analytics. Nor is this a session for geeks or techies either. In this session, we will discuss how you can easily use technology to support a leadership reformation in your church. After all, gone are the days where you would expect 100% of your leaders to show up on a Saturday morning training seminar. How can you train, support, empower, and coach your leaders using technology? Come and find out. There’ll be freebies galore, including free access to the latest and greatest conference videos.
Time: Tuesday, 2:30-3:30pm
Location: A148

Workshop Session 3: Are You a Future Planter or Campus Pastor?
Not everyone is called to plant a church. Some are called to plant a campus, and that’s not a lesser calling. So how do you discern what God is calling you to? What are your next steps in this journey of discernment? In this session, you’ll learn the key differences in these roles and receive a framework to help you make that decision.
Time: Wednesday, 1:00-2:00pm
Location: A148

Workshop Session 4: Discover How To Use Your Strengths to Multiply Your Church
Churches that multiply are led by leaders who are self-aware and know their strengths. Do you know what your areas of strength and natural talent are? Do you intentionally build those areas, while managing your weaknesses? For your church to grow and multiply, you may not actually need the latest and greatest strategy. Perhaps what you need is greater self-awareness. In this session, you’ll discover your areas of strength and develop a plan to manage your weaknesses.
Time: Wednesday, 2:30-3:30pm
Location: A148

Workshop Session 5: Using Technology to Unleash a Culture of Multiplication
This isn’t about Twitter, Facebook, or Google Analytics. Nor is this a session for geeks or techies either. In this session, we will discuss how you can easily use technology to support a leadership reformation in your church. After all, gone are the days where you would expect 100% of your leaders to show up on a Saturday morning training seminar. How can you train, support, empower, and coach your leaders using technology? Come and find out. There’ll be freebies galore, including free access to the latest and greatest conference videos.
Time: Thursday, 8:45-9:45am
Location: A148

Why Multisite Campuses Fail

When a multisite campus fails, there always needs to be an autopsy. After all, isn’t that just plain ‘ol good leadership? Learning from your mistakes?

There are several factors that contribute to a failed campus, like a lack of clarity, systems, funds, strategy, and prayer. However, we would be remiss to take the campus pastor out of the equation. After all, campuses rise and fall on leadership; particularly, the campus pastor’s leadership.

So before you apply to the seemingly endless amounts of campus pastor job postings, make sure that the role is a right fit for you. This is the third post in this series, so make sure you read the first two before finishing off this one:

1. 10 Signs You Shouldn’t Be a Campus Pastor
2. Campus Pastors NEED to Take Risks and Raise Funds

In my previous post, I explained the first five signs that were intended to help you discern whether or not you were cut out to be a campus pastor. Here’s the rest of the list.

5 Signs You Shouldn’t Be a Campus Pastor:

5. I need to be the one in charge

  • There are some that liken the campus pastor to being a team player, while the church planter or senior pastor is the team owner. I can understand how that distinction was made, but it’s not completely accurate because both church planters and senior pastors have a boss over them. I feel like the better analogy is to say that the campus pastor is one of the coaches, while the senior pastor or church planter is the main coach or manager of the team.
  • There are very few positions in this world where you have no boss, and you are the absolute authority. So instead of wishing you had ultimate control, why don’t you follow the footsteps of the centurion in Matthew 8 who knew what it meant to be a man of authority and a man under authority. In your role as a campus pastor, you will absolutely be in charge of many areas, but there will also be areas where you won’t be – learn how to deal with it. That’s life.

4. I hate politics

  • Politics = (Multiple Levels of Leadership + Dotted Line Reporting Structures + Solid Line Reporting Structures) x Sinful Nature.
  • Politics are inevitable in multisite churches, in fact, in most human run organizations (which is every organization), there will be politics – that’s just the nature of things. So instead of running away from them, it’s important that you learn how to deal with them.
  • “Look, I’m sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as serpents and as harmless as doves.” (Matt 10:16 HCSB). What does it look like for you to be as shrewd as a serpent and as harmless as a dove?
  • The presence of politics doesn’t mean that you have to play the game of politics. In other words, be honest, full of integrity, faithful in your responsibilities, and make sure that you’re clearly communicating your wins, your losses, and expectations. Even if people are throwing you under the bus, don’t throw them under the bus! See Rom 12:17-21.
  • Lastly, “be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” (James 1:19 HCSB).

3. I’m not adaptable

  • The one thing that is constant in ministry is change. There are some ministry roles where adaptability isn’t a critical trait – like in curriculum development. However, if you’re the campus pastor, adaptability ought to be your best friend. As a campus pastor, you need to be a generalist, or a jack-of-all-trades, to juggle all of your responsibilities. On any given Sunday, you may have to step into the chief greeter role, the setup crew, or run the slides, depending on your volunteers. So be adaptable.

2. I feel sleazy when I market something

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Campus Pastors NEED to Take Risks and Raise Funds

As the number of multisite churches continue to increase, so will the demand for campus pastors.

In an earlier post, I introduced the difficulty of discerning whether or not you have what it takes to be a campus pastor. After all, there is no universal job description for a campus pastor since every church does multisite differently. Make sure that you read that post before continuing on – it’ll give you the foundation for these next five points.

Most likely, if you’re considering campus pastoring, you’re also considering a church planting or senior pastoring role. The point of this post is to help you figure out if campus pastoring is the right road for you to head down on.

Here are five signs that you SHOULDN’T be a campus pastor:

10. I’m not a risk taker

  • There’s a myth out there that goes something like this: Church planters are the real risk takers, while campus pastors are just playing it safe. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Both church planting and campus pastoring are about the advancement of the gospel and seeing God’s Kingdom come and his will be done in a local community. There’s nothing safe about that.
  • When you launch a campus, it is going to feel more like a startup since it’s new. That gives you the opportunity to experiment, take risks, and try new ways of doing ministry that perhaps couldn’t be done at the more established sending campus – just make sure you’re not ditching the DNA of the church when doing so.
  • Essentially, if you are risk adverse, you won’t thrive as a campus pastor. In fact, you probably won’t get much done either. Since most multisite churches are still trying to figure out central support and DNA, you, as the campus pastor, have the opportunity to help define that by being on the front lines. In fact, the most successful campus pastors take the initiative and risk to help define those grey areas, rather than waiting for someone else to make the decision.

9. I’m bad at fundraising

  • When comparing campus pastoring with church planting, it’s easy to feel like the campus pastor is getting it easy, since they can just rely on the sending campus for seed money, budgeting and shortfalls. However, unless someone is bi-vocationally church planting, most church plants will receive that same type of support from the denomination or network that they’re planting from.
  • Successful campus pastors need to take ownership over their budget. Unless your campus is focused on college students or is in an economically challenging area, you should aim to match and exceed your budget year-over-year. If you don’t pay attention to this detail, and just expect the main campus to carry your weight, then you should also expect your position to be a temporary one.

8. I can’t bear the weight of leadership responsibility

  • You may not be the senior pastor, but you still carry a heavy weight of responsibility over your campus. If you expect the senior pastor to care more about your people than you do, or pray more for your campus than you do, then you’re in the wrong position. Campus pastoring is not a cop out. You need to bear the weight of responsibility over your campus.
  • Also, you need to be careful to never create an “us vs them” mentality. From the church’s perspective, you are a part of the senior leadership over your church, regardless of whether or not you sit on the executive team. So take full responsibility over the decisions that are made by your senior pastor and the executive team, and convey them to your campus as YOUR decisions.

7. I don’t like administration

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