Obstacles or Opportunities

Leadership

How many times have you heard ‘unprecedented’ since the COVID19 season hit us? It truly has been just that! I heard a new one today that was beginning to be tiresome for some and that is ‘fluid’. It’s true, that word totally captures so much of our current path – fluid – who knows the future. In our challenges, I find great hope.

Do you see opportunity?

Recently while spending some time in quiet devotion, I was inspired by a simple phrase in the midst of a powerful story. Early believers and leaders in the Christian faith were sharing the hope found in Christ. In Acts we find a leading disciple, Peter, in a situation that had options. He had choices about what to do next, and it says in Acts 3:12 “He saw his opportunity and addressed the crowd.” NLT

I know that is teasing out a bit of an obscure phrase in the midst of the situation of this narrative, but Peter, in his situation assessed the situation, saw the opportunity and pressed “go!”

What are the opportunities?

I have been considering much through this season, as we all have I’m sure. One of my dear leader coach friends, Jeremie, challenges people to consider on their next steps in the journey what will be “my aha take-aways, and what will be left behind.”

Here are some things on my “take-away, leave behind” list:

  • More time reserved to think, rest and ponder. Simply, slow down.
  • I am leaving behind mindless churn. There was a pace that was not even recognizable for so many of us until this time-out.
  • More time invested in simple time with family and friends; meals, walks.
  • More time invested in relationships at work and in my own neighborhood – meaningful conversations.
  • More time invested in things that build strength in mind, body and spirit.
  • Flexible work environments and options.
  • Usage of technology and innovation; zoom, online media – for everything: family, meetings, connectivity, groups, large broadcasts, and podcasts!
  • Simply, and like Peter, using every opportunity to share how my faith in Christ gives me strength, in good and bad, stress free times and times of panic!
  • This is just a start…

Take this time to consider what you see, and then seize the opportunity. Time to start the engines in a new way!

COVID19 – Moving forward

Leadership

As COVID19 restrictions are lifting and we are entering into uncharted waters. There will be new guidelines for how we gather in groups. It is likely that how we gather will be different for some time. If you lead in your context (and we are all leading someone) now is the time to keep the right mindset in guiding. We can guide people to adjust to new ways of doing things, communicating clearly what’s ahead, and quite frankly, just staying calm.

Delicate navigation

A few years back my wife was invited on a special cruise and I was glad to be her personal assistant! I was fascinated by something I had never seen before – the cruise ship Harbor Pilot. In the image above, you can see the Harbor Pilot boat that ferried the Pilot on and off our vessel. The Pilot is not on the full cruise, but rather is on board long enough to assist the Captain in safely navigating the harbor, around other vessels, and obstacles and barriers.

I serve in a large organization. In the best of times it takes the ‘seven touches’ of communication to get through to the largest percentage of our people – like with any organization. We simply need to hear something seven times for it to get across. Add to that the very real and heightened sensitivity of COVID19. The plan and communication has to be crystal clear. This is also made even more complex by the range of people’s reactions to COVID19. Some may respond ‘this is nothing, why aren’t we back to normal’ and others ‘this is dangerous, and we should not be out at all’.

Keep it simple

As we prepare for some uncharted waters, like our own new schedule we’ve never had before, I have heard our team share frequently – this has to be simple and clear. We are working even now to strip away minute details with our communication pieces to just the basics. In other words, we want to answer the biggest questions. We want to respond to the biggest concerns. Then we describe the first steps. If subsequent steps and answers will come as people are literally on that path, there is no need to clutter the first round of instruction.

Say it multiple ways

The Communications Director in our organization, and our staff do an amazing job of helping us get the word out! There is a pretty massive message communicate over the next days as we relaunch our campus on May 31. It will involve sharing it in multiple ways: website, social media, e-newsletter, video, letter, card, and networking with leadership groups.

As we pilot our organizations through this new harbor, be confident of where you are headed. Narrow down and simplify what you need to communicate, and share it often and in multiple ways. And yes, stay calm and positive – we will get through this!

Before you go back to the office…

Leadership, Personal Growth

Aren’t we all incredibly grateful the eye of the Coronavirus seems to be passing by! Before you go back to the office after the COVID-19 “safer at home” restrictions, consider how you would like to return:

  • Are there things you have committed to do better as a leader?
  • Are there things you have experienced during this season away that you know you need to improve?
  • What are the things you will STOP doing?
  • What are the things you will keep doing?
  • What new things will you practice?

Something needs to change

Through this shelter at home season, work has likely been more complex and hurried, not less. As you reflect on going back to the office to work, are there things you’ve considered changing and priorities you would like to address? Perhaps you know there are things you would like to change about your leadership, workflow and leadership techniques.

But maybe an issue is not knowing how you’re doing as a leader. Is there a place to be able to assess your leadership, your style, your pace? Other than going to a conference (which is unlikely for a while), or heading back to school, is there a place online for clear assessment, growth and development?

Become a better leader? But how?

Between your final Zoom meetings this week as you are working from home, take time to invest in yourself. Kick the tires of your leadership capacity and blind spots before you take yourself back out on the track. If not, it could be that you are down the road 6 months in the same situations with no change.

GiANT.tv

Go to GiANT.tv and sign up. While this resource is worth every penny, if you sign in now with affiliate link ‘raygriffinonline’ you receive a month free.*

This resource will help you assess, train, and learn core concepts of leading in the 21st century. There are so many modules in a wide array of leadership principles. You’ll find videos, and a toolbox of easy to apply leadership and growth insights and other goodies.

Still learning and growing

I have used these principles for years, and even last week, invested time in a GiANT.tv “pathway” on delegation. The lack of delegation for me is something I know I need to leave behind when I go back to the office for work.

There are communication principles and strategies that I would love to share here, but trust me, as we go back in the pressure cooker of how to say what the new normal is, when and to whom will be critical. You can find insights like this at GiANT.tv.

You’re about to be back in the office. I am glad. But, are you ready?

Steps Foward – Growing Professionally and Personally

Leadership, Personal Growth

Are you working to challenge yourself to grow and change personally? Are you working to help an organization grow and change? As the saying goes, if you are not moving forward, growing, you are dying. Here are some things I am using on this journey of personal and organizational growth.

Organizational Growth

Through the years I have had the opportunity to serve with some incredibly capable leaders. One leader used a process for long range planning that helped teams think about:

  • Ministry – What do we believe our Mission and Vision is for the future?
  • Personnel – Who will it take on a staff team to complete the Mission?
  • Facilities – What physical resources will be needed to accomplish the Mission?

This type of planning set us up years ago to experience what is reality today! As a matter of fact, much of this plan is still in place. But we can see clearly the need to update and adjust. Here are two key ways we are currently doing that:

CAMPUS AND FACILITIES

Our campus now pairs two separate church campuses as one. The church is experiencing great growth. How do we expand the current campus for growth now and in the future? How do we marry the two campuses to be one, parking, flow, ministry outlets? Thankfully we have a Long Range Planning team in place. And this group has hired an architectural firm skilled in campus master planning to help us! I am hopeful this journey and the insights of this group, and our prayers, will guide us to a plan that will bless for years to come.

STRATEGIC PLANNING

We are also working with a leadership consultant on strategic development. Lead staff are entering into a process of team growth, mission renewal and strategic planning. We are seeking a fresh mission, and accountability of clear objectives. It would be easy to simply say “let’s grow,” or to keep running headlong into busy-ness. Instead, we want to take a fresh look at our community, our mission, and our responsibility to do what is before us.

Personal Growth

MEANINGFUL TRAINING

This year is a bigger one for me. I turn 50, and will have been in ministry for 30 years. Much like strategic planning on the organizational front, I am working through the same process personally. What is my mission, am I equipped to handle the changes ahead? Last year I completed specialized training that was fulfilling and is a meaningful tool in my own mission.

KEY BOOK

A key book that is fitting for this season is Didn’t See It Coming by Carey Nieuwhof. His frank transparency in sharing his story of navigating life-change has been encouraging! He shares practical steps and biblical insights for staying fresh, energized and living fully. Whether you are turning 30, 40, 50 or beyond – get this book.

If I can help you on your personal and organizational growth journey I would be honored to do so! Find out more HERE.

Recommended Church Assessment

Discipleship, Leadership, Personal Growth

It is just about time for my annual check-up at the doctor. I know, not real fun stuff to blog about. But attempting to eat right and trying to exercise is only one part of being healthy. Check-ups, wellness checks, and assessments are part of a healthy journey. I can think I am fine, but it helps to know to what degree I am okay.

Have you ever wondered how healthy your church is? Would you know how people in your church rate their own spiritual growth and health? What would the results of some key metrics tell you about their personal maturation, relationship with God and others, heart for the Gospel, their own worship of God individually and corporately? You see, it is one thing to guess how we are doing. It is entirely another to actually investigate it.

Assessment Tool: Transformational Church

In 2018 the ministry staff at my home church began exploring a way to assess our spiritual health and maturity. We wanted to find a tool that would help us dive into some key metrics of overall spiritual health. One of the lead staff found Transformational Church Assessment Tool. By the developers’ own admission, they know no assessment is flawless. However, it is powerful and incredibly well-rounded in its exploration of key areas of growth and maturity.

Personal Impact

This tool is being used by our church to seek out how we are really doing as a group/body (confidential individual results). We wanted to get past some overly simplistic metrics like “how many attend.” It also has another powerful component. I am now readily aware of how I am doing personally. The assessment explored areas of maturity in my life about my personal discipleship, sharing the Gospel, private and corporate worship, giving, my gifts and serving others. But here’s another bonus. Many of you are likely aware of the “Hawthorne Effect.” I do not mean to refer to this effect being used in some manipulative way. The reality is I am now more conscious and aware of what I would call “accountability.” What was unknown in my life or a guess before is now known.

Church Impact

We have developed this year’s entire Theme around being aware of our growth and pursuit of following Jesus. In college I had a class called “Concepts in Fitness.” We had to do a pre-test and post-test that involved max sit-ups, push-ups, mile run time, etc. Part of the grade was to track improvement of our health through the semester by the post-test. Hence, that is our goal this year: at the end of 2019 our church is more aware of our strength level of our discipleship and key areas of improvement. And more importantly, our goal individually. We are challenging each other to grow in key areas. I want to and need to grow in key areas. Areas that I am now aware of clearly. We are providing resources to enhance growth in those aspects of discipleship, and encouraging each other in the journey!

Please share any insights you’ve discovered on a path such as this. For you!

GiANT TV Leadership Development on the Go!

Leadership, Personal Growth

Do you ever wish you could experience leadership development anytime, anywhere? A few years back I had the opportunity to walk through leadership development and growth with GiANT Worldwide. I learned the value of the lifelong journey of growing and improving as a leader. GiANT provided concepts and delivery options for me to explore change and challenge in my own life.

There are variety of ways to experience GiANT’s leadership tools as they describe and offer on their website, from books to personal encounters. But, I want to share something exciting that is new and particularly unique.

GiANT TV

The incredible tools, concepts and insights I have experienced with GiANT can now be experienced anywhere, anytime and on the go through GiANT TV.

If you use the following link, you will be able to experience GiANTtv free for one month! Check it out and enjoy the journey!

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For more information about GiANT Worldwide click here.

Change

Discipleship, Leadership, Personal Growth

Change is rapid. This past spring, a group of my buddies and I headed out to Arkansas to kayak Mulberry Creek. The scenery is incredible, the river is a beautiful blue and the kayaking a thrill. The guys on the trip made the trip a blast, and we did not hurt for great laughs and amazing food! One of the guys, Kevin, was our fearless leader. He knew the area well. But more importantly, he had been on the river and knew its twist and bends, and dangerous spots. The journey was a thrill and enjoyable, but it had plenty of moments that took insight and care. There were changes at every corner.

Change can be risky

As I floated the river, I couldn’t help but consider the thrill, but also the peril that could be involved in change. We have been in a transition at the church where I currently serve. Our Pastor of 15 years left for another great ministry leadership position. That meant we embarked on a journey in search of a new Senior Pastor. Here are some resources that have made this journey successful.

A Key Guide

Ready for change

One resource came in the form of a person. Having someone come and lead the organization/staff through a time to consider change and all that it means was a blessing. One of our friends in ministry is a leader and consultant with our state church convention, Brett Selby. We invited him to a day retreat at a facility in the Oklahoma River Parks area. He helped us process some early days of change – changes that at that time were happening more about our former pastor leaving. But, he also helped us consider what it will be like now, with a new pastor coming. He recommended the book Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes by William Bridges.

A Key Book

A journey that I have been on is with another resource, the book, Leading Major Change in Your Ministry by Jeff Iorg. This book chronicles Dr. Iorg’s victories and challenges as he has helped churches, denominational entities, and a seminary to make changes. The seminary changed its name, and moved its entire campus to a new region! Dr. Iorg uses frank but respectful anecdotes from his journey, key biblical passages and clear instruction in the best ways to lead a group through change.

Great book on change

Of the four churches I have served in since Seminary in the 1990’s, 3 have had Senior Pastor changes. Much of what I had experienced in the past was very good and healthy, but these additional resources and insights from Brett, and these two books have helped put into words what I have experienced. These resources have also helped me explore and expand areas that I know need growth and attention in my leadership development.

What resources have you used as you have experienced change?

Staff Retreats – Part 2

Leadership

In a follow-up to the previous post on some simple goals for staff retreats, I thought I would share some of my favorite locations.  An attempt is made at the retreats to connect the location with the main thrust of the day, the theme.  Sometimes the theme of the day centers on personal growth, sometimes on team development, and sometimes on a task like planning for the next year. The location of Quartz Mountain was the focus of Staff Retreats – Part 1, here are some more of my favorites!

Roman Nose State Park – This place has been a repeat favorite! This place that sits just west of Oklahoma City has a great facility with ease in rooming and meeting space, combined with cool places to explore. Meal options are good and the meeting space looks out over the lakes and scenery!

The Home Garage –  This one was tops because it was so simple but so cool.  One of our member’s residence has a significant car garage.  First, this man and his family love the Lord and the church.  Second,  he’s a great guy and a gifted mechanic (hobby).  He can make current cars even cooler, and does custom work from chops to resto-mods on classic cars and motorcycles.

After a few sessions to focus on the theme and talk about how we keep things up to date and running best, we had some projects.  We used the garage to literally do maintenance on one of our Widow’s cars – changing the oil, washing it and detailing the inside.  Then it was time to turn our attention to the good-ol’ Church Bus, and it got the same attention! 

Our Church DNA is simple.  We Gather in Worship and Small Groups, are Built Up and Sent Out.  While open to creativity and change, in the end, we tend to take what we have and make it run well – almost like taking something old and restoring it, making it even better today and for the future!  And that is exactly what we talked about that day.  How can we stay fresh and running all out!  Our theme was restoring a classic.  Everyone got a garage button-up shirt with name and Church logo sewn on, and a red garage rag to put in our office as a reminder to keep things running! 

Jacob’s Ladder Camp, located just outside of Oklahoma City by about 40 minutes, is a great place to feel like you have made it out of the “city” but not so far that you feel worn out from a long road trip. The campus has a dual purpose of a great Christian encampment, and also a boys ranch. It is a place like many Christian camps where you can sense that the Lord is often at work in peoples hearts.

Falls Creek – Our state convention has an incredible convention center located in the heart of the Arbuckle Mountains.  For many of us on staff, Falls Creeks holds a dear spot as a place where many of us have made life-changing decisions.  I did a bit of a time-warp to the past for us as a staff with a camp-like feel of a retreat.  Camp cabin, outdoor devotions, throwback camp t-shirt, and even a camp style staff picture for everyone’s office. 

Union Train Station – Some years ago, as QSBC was on the verge of experiencing some dramatic change, we took some time to tag base as a staff with the things that will not change about what we do and who we are as a church. Point being, this formerly bustling train station is no longer used for that purpose. How will we press on in the years ahead with the simple and clear mandates that have always guided the church – what are the most important things we should be doing?

Finish Line Tower and Chesapeake Boathouse – Just south of OKC’s Bricktown is the Oklahoma Riversports complex. This gem of a spot is an incredible place to gather as a team as there are great places to meet, with more than ample access to great trails along the river. The staff who assisted with my last outing to the Finish Line Tower was amazing, from giving direction about the facility and catering, to meeting early for access and help with any setup I needed. Top notch! We were able to talk about finishing well and teamwork.

OBU – The staff took a journey to Shawnee, America to the campus of Oklahoma Baptist University. This beautiful campus lends itself to good walks for time with the Lord. We utilized the campus Athletic Facilitiy called the RAWC, to explore our own “strengths” individually and as a team. Good day for sure!

Aloft Bricktown – Located in downtown OKC at Bricktown you’ll find Aloft and this hip spot had a great meeting room that has panoramic views of Bricktown and even better OKC’s Skyline. On the Skyline side there is also an outdoor terrace that is quite stunning.

Thanks for checking out some of my favorite spots to recharge and focus with our ministry team. Take a moment to share some of your top spots, it would be great to hear!

Top goals for staff retreats

Leadership

For some, the phrase “staff retreat” conjures up images of a group going to a great location, but being locked up for hours looking through minutia of the calendar, or focused on a particular department’s health or strategies.  Even the word itself has some negative connotations with “retreat” commonly known as falling back in some type of defeat.  For our staff my hope is anything but what I’ve described above.  My prayer is we are able to get away to the hillside if you will, to breathe, to reflect; yes, to rest.

There are three main goals I have for our staff retreats:

  1.  Relationships – As a church ministry staff we do not work one day a week, Sundays, as many like to joke.  Another notion is that we chat and drink coffee all day when we are in the office.  The reality is, I share office space with a group where it is common for us pass each other in the halls as we are about the work.  I actually am sad to confess this, but it is true.  There is a hustle to ministry, and much of that work is focused with energy to those we serve and are trying to reach.  The work is not focused inward, on the team.  To have a time to focus only on our relationships as a team is not only a challenge, but a blessing and precious commodity when we get it.  At our retreats, how do we focus on relationships?  Time – I designate a large chunk of the schedule for unstructured, non-agenda driven time with one another.  Sometimes an activity is planned, but often not – and it yields time to connect in ways I could not have planned in the first place.  We recently experienced ample time to talk at our meals, and a staff member described this aspect as such a good, laughter filled time of connection.

2. Rest – Another objective is to create space, margin, time to rest.  I will do a future post on some of my favorite locations for retreats.  But the location is important.  Get away, make it feel like a break.  Our recent retreat to Quartz Mountain State Park was perfect in that it was far enough of a drive to feel a disconnect, but not too far to be road weary.  And the main box it checked was the scenery.  If you have not been to this gem in Southwest Oklahoma, plan a day trip.  Rest removes us from the constant drum beat, it refreshes the soul.  It calibrates us to understand that we are not so important that we cannot rest.  It reminds us of how small we are and how big God is when we see and breathe in His creation.  Jesus frequently stepped aside, alone or with the disciples, to talk to the Father.  He implored His disciples to get to a solitary place and rest. And He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.)” Mark 6:31 NASB/biblegateway

3. Responsibility – One thing about rest though, it seems sweeter when you feel like you have or are accomplishing something.  As I plan the agenda, I like to focus on one thing that will be a takeaway of completion.  What is our task?  What are we here to do?  This particular retreat’s task was to introduce and solidify our 2019 theme and settle the action steps for the first half of the year.  Confession: did we walk through a calendar?  Yes.  We do want to insure that all have had opportunity to hear the “big pieces” ahead and to be able to avoid overlap or ministry conflicts with one another.  But, I did try to limit this time and held it off for one of the final meeting times.

Bottom line, I walked away from this retreat with a deepened friendship with our staff.  We prayed, we laughed, we were stirred and challenged.  We tackled a task together.  I sat by myself and reflected on the Lord; I wandered about a bit in His incredible handiwork.  Thank you God.