I am learning that some of the staff and other leaders don’t know certain things (or need to be reminded regularly of things) that I would have assumed they would be mindful of. What are two or three things that other pastors regularly emphasize or remind their staff and key leaders about?
I remind my staff often about 3 key things:
- Why we do what we do! – Sometimes it is so easy to get caught up in the minutia of ministry that we put our heads down and forget the whole reason why we do what we do. Ministry is about people. People come first. Most of Jesus’ miracles were interruptions. He didn’t however say, “I can’t help you right now, I have to go over here and walk on the water.” No, he stopped and spent time and met their need. I remind our team to be ready for the divine interruptions. All it takes is a moment and someone’s life can be forever changed.
- Keep the culture – Culture is very important. Sam Chand, a good friend, says that “culture trumps vision every time.” Culture is that set of beliefs that a church is run by. Sure we have a vision, but the culture ultimately supports the vision. I remind our team that it is their job to protect the culture.
- Ownership – I talk tons about owning the vision. I don’t ever hire renters; I invite ownership. I look for people that will own the vision of the church. We talk a lot about the importance of responsibility that comes along with authority. As a team member, you have been given authority in a certain area, but that authority comes along with great responsibility. Own it. Treat it like it’s your own. Spend money like it’s your own. Treat equipment like it’s yours.
I often have to remind them to:
- Be kind and courteous to everyone—even those who have been in our church for many years.
- Live a life of integrity.
- Make decisions based upon kingdom priorities.
First, I believe you have to constantly remind staff of the vision of the church regularly. Second, you have to constantly remind staff of your core values. Third, never assume people know anything. If you do, you will miss things they need.
No one will love the church more than the leader. I believe you have to—on a regular basis—teach and remind your staff. If at some point you have trained and instructed your staff, and they still don’t get it, then you will have to let them go.
We are in a season, since it is the first of the year, of reminding our staff about policies regarding pastoral care and personal conduct. Our processes for pastoral care may sometimes get in the way of taking care of people, so we remind our staff of the policies and follow it up with the personal touch of caring for the individual.
We also have to keep the personal conduct in front of our staff so that things like the dress code, social media use and content they post, and other personal issues of conduct will not send conflicting messages with what the values of our church are.
As a leader, I know that I am going to be required to “beat the drum.” When I am leading well, I will feel as though I am saying things over and over again. Repetition is a given if you want to be an effective leader. Like any great coach, we must use repetition and learn to never assume anything. Like most everything else in our fallen world, culture leaks. Here are a couple things we say often around the office:
- We are all COACHABLE. I give coaching and I receive coaching. You can expect regular feedback on your performance. You have every right to know what is expected of you and how you are doing at what is expected of you. Coaching keeps us humble and tender with God and each other. A coachable person is the best kind of volunteer. When you are able to be coached, then you can also feel free to coach others.
- We are engaged in a battle. We are not on a cruise ship but on a battleship. I reminded our staff this week in our prayer meeting (side note: with a staff of 88 folks, this is our most important time together each and every week!) that we pray because we are in a fight. When God’s Kingdom wins, that means the enemy is losing. We have been given the land in order to possess it. BUT, we must go out and possess it. I find that we needed to be reminded that our work and service will not always be easy or without a fight. If you are ready for the fight, it will go far better than if you think you are on a vacation. I see my role to remind our teams of the fight and the victory that will be one as we ENGAGE TOGETHER and get after it!
In order to shape and influence our culture, I have to be okay with the fact that I am going to say things over and over again. I guess that means that every “culture shaping” leader is the president of the redundancy department. I’m becoming better at it.
- As we strive for excellence, we want to first be excellent in LOVE.
- We value people more than protocol and procedure.
Probably one of the most important things I’ve noticed that has to be repeated regularly would be vision (on every level). And though this may seem like a “no-brainer,” it seems that what is felt and perceived are usually two different things. Sometimes I feel like I’m casting so much, nobody could forget it, and we conclude everyone is tracking with us. I have to continually remind myself that vision leaks (all the time!); and more specifically, why we do what we do as it relates to the vision. After all, the people are carriers of the vision/mission at every service.
As I reflect on this great question, I look back over the decades of raising up, training, and leading others. Some things I can see that I’ve emphasized over and over are:
- Always remember, Jesus is the One that gifted and called you, so He wants you to succeed even more than you do. Another way to say it is, your ministry was God’s plan for your life even before you knew about it, so fulfill it by faith and don’t back off or quit!
- Another thing, always remember you are here for the people. Never get the attitude that you’re the “big one” and they owe you.
- And, I emphasize over and over, “that Satan can’t stop us, and the main thing we have to continually guard against is strife and division among leadership.”
I hope this helps somebody, I know these things have helped my team grow and remain strong and build a great church in reaching our assigned region!
Reminding is critical; it’s something every Pastor needs to do on a regular basis. The Apostle Peter said, “Therefore, I will always remind you about these things—even though you already know them and are standing firm in the truth you have been taught” (1 Peter 1:12).
There it is—“I always remind you about these things…” There are a few things I try and remind my staff of on a regular basis. Just this week in staff prayer, I took the opportunity to remind my team:
- What they are doing – CHANGING PEOPLE’S LIVES! This is the essence of what every staff member does. If somebody asks what they do, the response should be, “I’m changing people’s lives,” not, “I work in the youth department; I work in helps; community outreach; creative arts”…etc. Every person on my team has the same job description (at least at the beginning of it). It starts with the essence of what they do: change people’s lives! You have to remind people of this or they will drift back into function—the task that they do. The principle is this: Essence wins over function every time! Essence is packed with vision and vision is attractive.
- Values. The values you have for your church are what sets the culture of your church. Your values are the shared beliefs that you have—beliefs that are so deep, so grand, so motivating, that they are worth throwing the rest of your life into! So this week, I once again found myself reminding the team of our values. I asked them to use the sheet I handed out to them and the entire church at the beginning of the year as a prayer guide. It has vision on the front side and values on the back. What should you remind your team of? Values, values, values—until they can say them back to you. And then remind them even more until they can say the values back to you with passion.
- Pray. This week I also reminded the team that, “we reproduce what we are, not what we know.” We can say we are a generous people. We can say we believe that prayer works. We can say that nothing matters more than hearing the voice of the Lord. But it’s what we really end up doing that we reproduce in others. We must be an abiding people. All genuine ministry is about overflow, not overwork. If we are not abiding in Jesus, not sitting at His feet, not listening, if we are not involved in love responding to love, then we have an empty tank and have nothing to give. But when your tank is full… watch out, world! You are a walking revival just waiting to happen!
Here are three things that we emphasize and remind the staff of:
- Make people a priority. Key workers must focus on the people coming through the doors of the church. They need to be mindful of being courteous and kind to the attenders, more than the task at hand.
- Leaders are expected to be on time.
- Information discussed in staff meetings is confidential and must not be discussed with others.
The staff and key leaders of the church have been together for a long time. I thank the Lord that we have minimal discord, but these are things that come up from time to time.
This is a common mistake for leaders. We assume that because we see something as obvious, we think all of our leaders and helpers should see it too. Remember, many times leaders see things first and process things first. That’s why you’re the leader!
There are some things that we as leaders need to constantly remind our staff and other leaders about:
- Vision. You cannot overstate the vision. Great leaders constantly communicate the vision. They do it in sermons, slogans, songs, videos, print, etc. Your team needs to know where they are going. Use creative redundancy when communicating vision.
- Culture. Constantly remind your team regarding how we do things: i.e., with excellence, in love, and with a heart of service. Remember to publicly praise your leaders when they exemplify this. Make heroes of the right people.
- Developing future leaders. It is the job of every leader to multiply himself in others. Remind them that a huge part of their responsibility is to identify and train future leaders. Their job is to recruit, recruit, recruit. If you fail to do this, they will put the expectation on you to do all of the recruiting and training.
- Victories. The best leaders I know celebrate victories. Ministry can be such a grind that we forget why we’re doing what we’re doing. Look for things to celebrate. If we don’t intentionally celebrate victories, our attention is drawn to the failures (someone left the church, someone didn’t show up, someone messed up, etc.). Help your people to keep their eyes on what is going right.
- Example. Remind them that we lead by example. People do what people see.
WARNING: Please be wise in how you communicate these truths to your staff and other leaders. Never make them feel stupid, or as if they should already know these things. If your staff and other leaders don’t know these things, it’s probably because they haven’t been adequately trained. It’s not their fault.
Pastor Doug Foutty – Parkersburg, WV
Sometimes I remind them concerning things in the natural and sometimes things along spiritual lines. With something as simple as remembering to turn the heat down when leaving the building, turning off lights, and locking doors, one would think would be second nature. I find it is a constant reminder that must be given.
I always tell (especially) the ladies to lock the doors when they are in the church alone because sometimes strangers have wondered in and it was very uncomfortable. These reminders are for their own safety. You would think it would be on their mind already.
I remind them about visitors and what to say to them. Sometimes it is necessary to remind your leaders not to ‘run out of gas.’ Don’t burn themselves out with fleshly deeds only to find out they have no stamina remaining when they need to truly minister to someone. I remind them not to get caught unprepared to share the Gospel in any situation. Sometimes you just have to remind your leaders to smile and enjoy their Christian walk.
We endeavor to do this across the board. One of our biggest struggles is not so much the staff understanding, even though we all need to be reminded at times, but the gap is between paid staff and volunteer staff. This gap is there primarily because the volunteer staff isn’t present to hear these things on a regular basis and isn’t as familiar with the lens that we see ministry through. One way we try to close this gap, is every Sunday, I spend about two minutes in the service talking about things that address our culture as a ministry. This ranges from our brand, to how we do ministry, our spirit and flavor, and our core values.
There are two main aspects that all of these deal with: (1) a large portion is how we believe we should interact with people (example: one of the things in how we do ministry is we give people time to grow. This means we are not to criticize them, but rather give them the word and allow them time to grow, and we exercise patience with their failures and encourage them to continue to make progress). (2) our beliefs (example: The Word and Spirit. This is where we share that we have to build on the Word of God but we must have the Work of the Holy Spirit; we don’t deal with this from the standpoint of doctrine but how it guides what we do and how we implement things).
These are things that we regularly make a part of our discussions and planning with paid staff. It’s not something that we remind, but rather it is a part of the decision making process. Yet for volunteer staff in the church, the repetition increases the opportunity for application by hearing these things on a regular basis.
These are not tasks, but rather they are things to be considered when deciding what to do and how to do it. They provide a framework for decision making and function much like a filter. The decision has to pass through this filter to determine what and how we do things. If it doesn’t make it through the filters, then it isn’t something we do (or we adjust how we do it).
Ultimately to me, these things (the brand, how we do ministry, the spirit and flavor, and our core values) are the vision of the ministry and are a bigger factor in determining what is accomplished than rallying people around a project or a program. This is what makes people “stick” or connect to the ministry.
Things that I remind my staff of on a regular basis that they should be mindful of are:
- Pray in the spirit on a daily basis. Have a good prayer life.
- Connect to the Word of God daily.
- Attend regular church services, department meetings, and major functions of the church.
All helps to build trust and good thinking with each other and develops a good team.
My answer would be VALUES.
- As ministers and pastors, we revolve our lives around people; the congregation does not revolve around our schedules.
- Ministry is spelled I-N-C-O-N-V-E-N-I-E-N-C-E.
- Build ministry teams or you’ll always do it yourself!
Two things about which to be mindful:
- The most effective/efficient way to get ministry workers is via personal recruitment. Not bulletin announcements! Paint the picture of the vision of the ministry then paint the picture of the area of ministry to which the leader is recruiting. Finally, paint the picture of the recruit’s function as it ties in to the big, eternal picture. My department leaders are trained to: recruit; train; mobilize; and meaningfully appreciate your workers.
- Close the communication loop! My leaders are trained to: hear my instruction; repeat it back to me for clarity; write it down; do the task; report back to me.
- Check your email.
- Answer emails.
- Being a department head means you continually train and supervise volunteers. You can’t just hand them the department guidelines and think that your department will run properly.
Many times I feel like it is the day to day things that staff forgets. “Are the lights in the church out? Are the doors locked? What are the thermostats set on? Pick up trash as you walk through the building.”
Another area of attention is to upcoming events. Because most staff are working in other areas of church during announcements, they need to make sure they know what events are coming up.
Many times as pastors we voice what is important to us; but if staff would also watch us for a little bit, they will find out what is important. If I straighten the chairs and tables as I walk through the building, then it is important to me. As a pastor, my heart would be that my staff love our church family and facility as much as I do.
The following are a few thoughts I have:
Remind them of The Hub
I took a vision management course many years ago. Frank Damazio was the instructor. During the course, he shared a principle that I have never forgotten. He called it, The Principle of the Hub.
The Principle of the Hub:
If your staff is not ingrained in the “Hub” of your church, you run the risk of them creating a “sub-hub.”
Imagine your church as a wheel. You have a hub, spokes, and rim. Your hub consists of the things that are core to your church: your mission, vision, values, beliefs, code of ministry, etc.—these things do not change. They comprise who you are as a church and what you believe God is calling you to be and to do. The spokes represent your particular departments and their leaders. The rim represents your strategy and methods.
If the spokes (departments and leaders) arenʼt vitally connected to your hub (your unchangeables) then they run the risk of being spokized (creating their own sub-hub and doing their own thing). This can cause extreme damage to your church. Conflict and church splits are often the result. Therefore, you must constantly teach and remind your staff of the hub so you are all on the same page spiritually and philosophically.
Remind them of The Code
You should have a code of ministry principles that you run your ministry by. I recommend you have some sticky statements to help your team remember the principles that are important to you. Remember, we are living in the Facebook generation. People donʼt remember paragraphs as well as they remember statements!
Some examples are:
The Bigger the Title the Bigger the Towel
Itʼs about Servant Leadership
Jesus didnʼt say admire me, He said FOLLOW ME!
Itʼs about Authentic Discipleship
If it Bears His Name, Itʼs Worth Our Best
Itʼs about Focused Excellence
Youʼre Life is either a Wonderful Example or a Tragic Warning
Itʼs about Finishing Strong
When Purity is Violated, Purpose Can be Annihilated
Itʼs about Sexual Purity
We Teach What We Know but We Reproduce What We Are
Itʼs about Excellence in Character
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Itʼs about Team Ministry
People Donʼt Care How Much You Know Until They Know How Much You Care
Itʼs about Loving People
Jesus is the Author and the Finisher, but Heʼs Not Obligated to Finish What He Never Authored
Itʼs about being Led by the Spirit of God
Never Do Anything to Hurt the Church
Itʼs about Wisdom Living
Donʼt Be so Busy Doing the Work of the Lord that You Forget the Lord of the Work
Itʼs about Relationship with Christ
He Must Increase, But I Must Decrease
Itʼs all about Jesus! He Gets the Glory!