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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Writers of the Faith

Writers of faith need to have some outlets that get them reaching out to other people of faith. Here are a few places where you may want to post comments or status updates, even join similar groups. I do not consider this an exhaustive list by any means.

Christian Connecting
You have to get on www.youversion.com (created by lifechurch.tv). I love it and get some great feedback when I add link or text contributions and bookmark Scriptures. There are faithful folks on the site worth following. I like Shoutlife and its author groups, too.

Blogging
Try www.wordpress.com or www.blogger.com for blogging. Great stats and data for bloggers. Even if you use Blogger or some other blogging platform, you can import posts into Wordpress. I do so with http://revbruce.wordpress.com via the Ministry Mechanic with Blogger imports and FeedBurner.

Micro-Blogging
Consider using www.twitter.com or www.linkedin.com to connect with other authors, post links to your work, or just share/ tweet random thoughts and words of inspiration.

Articles
Look into using a site like www.articlebase.com , www.bizsugar.com or www.helium.com to write articles on topics related to faith or your profession. Get feedback and keep working at your craft.

Board Funding Options

Nonprofit boards come in all shapes and sizes. Whether secular or faith-based, all boards are expected to have board member positions and responsibilities outlined in their bylaws and articles of incorporation. Depending on the type of organizational structure, this may also be located in the charter or covenant. It is required to be in place somewhere.


The issue is not usually about whether it is in place or not. The issue usually has more to do with upholding what board members signed on to do as part of being on the board. In most cases, the board has "fiduciary responsibility." It is not just management and oversight. It is not simply about leadership and vision.


Boards have options for raising funds:
  • Give funds
  • Get funds
  • Get off the board

It sounds crazy, even harsh and cold. Yet, it is a reality. You were recruited for the board for your skills and abilities, expertise and connections, or at least that was the intent. What in-kind services have you legitimately offered your board? What expertise have you shared with your team? How have you utilized your community connections to strengthen or support the executive leadership in place? You can help. You just need to develop a plan for helping out the best way that you can. Your organization is depending on you.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Life Happens

“Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans”.
-John Lennon


Life happens. Don't get upset. It is what is. Things unravel and come undone. People get sick. Schedules change. Things just happen.


Whether you are leading a meeting, teaching a Sunday school class or presenting a workshop, you need to be flexible. You can't lose it simply because things are not working. Keep it together.


Life happens.


The next time things go out of sync:
  • Accept it: Since it happens like it happens, deal with it. Come to grips with it and don't let it get to you. Deal with it. Simply accept it.

  • Adjust to it: Once you have accepted it, you need to adjust to it. Make immediate changes to get through the short-term period of adjustment. Simple shifts can certainly help you make things work out when you have to make changes and adjustments.

  • Adapt because of it: You've adjusted for now. Now, since you have some experience, make adaptations in your planning. Allow enough "wiggle room" for life to happen without having a total meltdown due to a two-minute emergency. Keep good notes as you reflect on this experience. Make the right adaptations as you plan for the next time.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Give Quality and Get a Good Name

A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, Favor is better than silver and gold. - Proverbs 22:1 (NIV)

We need to provide quality service to people. In order to do so, we may have to see things from a program participant’s point of view as we plan. If you run an after school program, think about quality from the perspective of a student, a parent and the principal. What spells quality for them? Look at your urban youth ministry from the youth perspective. Place yourself in the participant’s shoes.
  • What matters most to them?
  • What is of value to them?
Keep this in mind as you develop your future programs and adjust your existing ones.


Quality may not necessarily beget quantity, but a quality experience is rewarding and beneficial because it gets people talking about your program and what it offers them. As people talk up your program and its many benefits and blessings, others will get wind of the good work that you do. These people may not only be potential participants but also potential donors or referrals for others who may participate. That makes a big difference when you have limited marketing and recruiting budget dollars for the work that you do.


Give people a quality experience and get people talking about their experience with your organization.


A good name is better than fine perfume . . .- Ecclesiastes 7:1 (NIV)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Finding Funding

All hard work brings a profit. . . - Proverbs 14:23 (NIV)

I honestly can't say that Solomon lied when he penned this wise saying. He did write all hard work, not some or a little. He was sure to write it in such a way that even King James Version translators were able to see it as: In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury. Work, labour or labor mean rolling up your sleeves, digging in and breaking a sweat. It brings to mind words like intensity, endurance, strength, and ability.

As a consultant to small businesses, nonprofits and churches of varying sizes, I see a lot of people who are in need of funding. Most of these folks are without any clue of how to get from where they are today to where they need to be in the future without bringing on a grant writer or consulting team. The truth is that some of the homework should have been done before seeking out outsiders. Additionally, you need to have some other options than simply going Reaganomics with the old adage of spending money to make money as bring on consultants to find funding.

Solomon was absolutely right. All hard work eventually leads to a profit. The problem is that we see the word profit and overlook the phrase hard work. We need the tenacity and inner strength to do the hard work that leads to a profit. We have to dedicate time and energy to doing the work in order to arrive at a new place in the life of our organization.

What You Need in Place
  • Marketable Programs
  • Intake Data
  • Available Staff and Volunteers

The grant writer or consultant you bring on will need to know what type of programs you run and how they have been running so far. He or she will need to know who your programs have served and currently serve. This is the demographic data that tells about the percentages of your clientele who live below the poverty level or who reside in federal empowerment zones. Such data tells the story of who your programs reach and help. Staff and volunteers will need to be available via email, phone or an occasional interview or group session to share some personal insights that speak beyond the data and help tell the story.

What You Should Do

Do your homework. Find out about grants and other fund-raising options. Let's be fair. You are not in a position for your grant-writing consultant to rewrite your program design. That adds to the costs. Find out all that you can so that you can maximize your options and minimize your consulting costs.

  • Research grants that fit your current programs
  • Investigate grants that will enhance and expand your organizational capactity
  • Identify grant-making organizations that fund similar organizations like you
  • See who has supported similar programs in your local community and/ or region

Compile your list with your reasoning and rationale. Call a few of the program officers and discuss what you currently offer. Email program officers a short list of questions about their process if the online information is unclear. Take notes on all of this and sit down with potential consultants and see if they can offer services that will get the grant written so that you can continue the work.

Grant Research Resources (Some That I Like)

Intergenerational Inspiration


"Not by might nor by power, but my Spirit says the Lord Almighty." Zechariah 4:6 (NIV)

Today's Christian church needs to understand how to lead young people in order to prepare them for the future. When I say young people, I am speaking of youth (middle school children & teens) and young adults (18-30). During the Obama campaign, some have dubbed what I am calling "young adults" the Joshua Generation.

The Bible speaks clearly to how this should be done in many instances. The Books of Wisdom (Psalms, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes) share insights into how to train children and direct them in a life that pleases and honors God. Solomon's writing of Proverbs opens with a directive to his children in obtaining wisdom, especially Proverbs 1:8-9. Yet, I offer some more practical passages that may aid those serving in our local churches with today's youth and young adults.

Titus 2:1-5
Paul assigned Titus in Crete to straightened out what was wrong and to appoint elders among the believers (Titus 1:5). In offering more specific directives, Paul shares in chapter two of this pastoral epistle, how Titus should train his people. This section of the epistle deals with what I would consider intergenerational interchanges. Older women working with the younger women and older men training the young men, all along with the pastoral leadership of Titus in place. Oddly enough, the pastor just can't assign or appoint someone to lead the ministry or implement the program without being involved with it in some capacity.

Ephesians 4:11-13
Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus a letter that shares a lot of how-to knowledge necessary for being the church. In fact, Colossians is a Pauline epistle that very reflective of the content of Ephesians. The passage referenced here deals with the spiritual gifts provided by the Lord for the individuals within the church to edify those within the church so that the entire church will be at work for the Lord's purpose and plan as well as positioned and prepared for the Lord's return to reclaim His church, which is His body of believers. In essence, it is about being positioned for a purpose established by the Lord Himself.

What does that have to do with youth and young adults? Paul never says for the church is only supposed to train seasoned saints 65 and older. he never said that only adults will be trained and taught, built up for the work of the ministry. he said saints. The point of VBS and all of that other kids' stuff in church isn't for the sake of not having them occupy the pews in the back of the church where they stick their gum and write notes to one another on the church bulletins or sermon outlines. The point of it all is to have them taught and trained for the work of the ministry according to the Lord's purpose.

Our churches, church leaders, and youth pastors, even young adult leaders, need to see God's purpose and intent behind having us in place. We need to ensure that what we provide our people, including our youth and young adults, prepares and positions them to please and honor God.

There must be an intergenerational interchange that leads to infusing youth and young adults into the ministry and the work of the church itself, not just putting the kids on program on annual youth Sunday. If your annual youth Sunday services leave you wondering why some youth don't seem to get it when it comes around to that one particular Sunday you have designated as their time, you also have to realize that you have never worked with or trained these same people all year either. Thus, in essence, you failed to prepare them for their time to shine.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mid-Week Update July 28 2010

We need to be "doers of the word," according to James the brother of the Lord Jesus (James 1:22). I agree and believe that we need to activate our belief by what we do as well as what we profess. Full Post...

The most popular post for Rev Bruce's Blog on WordPress has been Youth Outreach. If you have not read it, check it out for yourself. I believe it is one of those posts that sets some on fire and sets some people against you. Full Post...

Social media and social networking takes a lot of hits, but I have to be real about usage. Take a look at your site stats via Google Analytics. See where your "hits" are coming from and who's going where on your sites.

Not into following blogs. Go to the Facebook page. Are you looking for some more updates? Follow the tweets.

I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry.- Psalm 40:1 (NKJV)David is a shining example of patience in practice. He didn’t just offer lip service about waiting on the Lord. He exemplified faith as he held on, awaiting and expecting God to respond to him.
Full Post...

Too Much Talk

"... let your words be few." Ecclesiastes 5:2 (NSRV)


I know I am guilty of it from time to time. I get on a subject and go on for way too long. I've got too much information pouring out of my head and spewing from my mouth. You can say a lot and still not say much. Run-D.M.C. summed it up in a song: "You Talk Too Much."


Solomon said that our words should be few. You should say as little as possible and mean as much as possible. It can be done. In a business sense, make your statements short, simple and succinct.


Be clear about what you mean and be concise with how much you say. You can say a lot by simply saying a little. There's a way to minimize your message's size without losing the power of its impact. Carefully select your words and ensure that you keep it simple.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Set and Schedule Goals

Many are the plans in a man's heart,
but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails.
- Proverbs 19:21 (NIV)


You've got plans with multiple goals. You need to organize your goals in such a way that you check them off as you hit each target as you work your way towards your main objective.


Set and schedule your goals. Identify by priority and period. This will help as you organize your goals.


Goals:
  1. Short-Term Goals (1-3 years)
  2. Intermediate Goals (3-5 years or 3-7 years)
  3. Long-Term Goals (5-7 years or 7+ years)


Some consultants will advise goal-setting strategies that span 10 years, starting with an annual plan. That works when you have a cohesive and consistent team with longevity. When you have shifts and changes due to funding and other factors, you will need to look at shorter spans of time. A new team can emerge and disregard the plans set by the previous teams. Usually, when you have high turnover, even with your board of directors and executive leadership, you need to tailor your goal-setting process to annual "adjusted" plans that require planning at least 6 months in advance of implementation.

Make your goals visible. Replace some of those cheesy motivational posters hanging around the office and board room with some visual reminders of what your team should be aiming at on a continual basis. Let people see that you are a goal-oriented organization and operation. Make it known to your team and let it be known to your clients, customers, congregants and vendors and partners.

By setting up and scheduling your goals, you can set yourself up for success.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Planning Perspective

The time is always right to do what is right.- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

You have to know why you are doing something to know if the something that you are doing is the right thing. Are you taking the right actions?

Planning must be both prayerful and purposeful.

  • Prayerful: Your planning must be prayerful because you need guidance. Human understanding alone will only help you as you face human issues. The Bible says we don't wage war on a human level. The war is waged on a spiritual level. Prayer is tapping into God's spiritual power among other things. Planning needs to be a spiritual venture on the part of the believer. For those who do not believe, I hope you at least enlist some intercessors in your planning.

  • Purposeful: Your planning must be purposeful so that you can reach your goals and objectives. Identified targets are ones that you can take aim at and hit. You need to be sure to keep your purpose in mind as you plan. Tangents are equivalent to those rabbit trails that lead you off from the main path. You can't get to where you need to go when you are willy-nilly, going in all kinds of directions.

Approach planning from the perspective of being prayerful and purposeful. Stay in prayer. Keep your purpose in mind. Plan accordingly.

Planning Your Teams

These people made your plan happen because of your power and your will.- Acts 4;28 (NCV)


Planning how to structure your team will be vital to your team's success. You need to plan out your teams before you try to recruit team members to join up for the work. You will need specialized teams for specialized tasks. Some basics for ministries and churches planning events will include: Prayer Team, Set-Up Team, Break-Down Team, Service Team, and Leadership Team.

I always recommend Prayer Team because I believe that prayer is essential and fundamental to what we need to do before, during and even after the event. When we fail to pray, we sure to see our plans fail. We never checked in with God throughout the process. Be sure to include a Prayer Team, even before you assemble your Leadership Team. Solicit praying souls who can start combating the spiritual warfare that will surely arise as you seek to bring glory to God.

Your team structure should be based upon what you need. Identifying what you need goes back to some basics. You need to see what you seek to accomplish (your main objective), and then identify what you need in place in order to reach your objective. What you want to accomplish and what you need to get done will help you create a list of necessary items. This will help you develop your budget and construct your teams.

With your list of necessary items, you will have to identify some basic tasks that need to get done. Teams accomplish tasks. Break down big jobs into smaller tasks, especially if you plan on using volunteers. Manageable pieces are easily managed for a reason. You do not lose anything when you ask the overworked Christian servant to only do one thing rather than take on a whole additional load of responsibility. You also gain some willing workers when you only ask the new Christian convert to support and work along with veteran volunteers who have served in such a capacity at previous events. Identify the tasks and identify the people who can get the things needed done.

As you go further in developing teams, be sure to:
  • Provide volunteer position descriptions with bullet points of what to do and how to do it
  • Share the main objective with everyone. If it is about evangelism, say so. If it is about letting people see what your church has to offer, make it real for the people who have to help make it happen.
  • Say who you are trying to reach. Your teams also promote your event by what they say to people they know and encounter. Know who you want to reach and share it with your team.
  • Talk resources. Your list will tell you what you need. Share it as a "wish list" with your team. Someone may work for a company who can supply some things or sponsor the items. Others may have experience getting donations from local organizations and have connections. Share you needs with your team.
  • Thank your team from beginning to end, and then thank them again. You can never say it enough. Without them (and the Lord, of course), you are not able to get it all done.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Recognition: Say it and Show it

When it comes to recognition, you have to both say it and show it. Whether it is staff or volunteers, you need to recognize those doing the work of the organization. It doesn't matter if you are a church or nonprofit entity, even a small business. You need to recognize those who serve alongside of you, especially those under your supervision. It doesn't matter if they work on the front lines or behind the scenes. People need to know that you appreciate them.

What do I mean?

  • Say it: Recognize people for what they do and how they do it, for the time and effort that they dedicate to the work. People need to hear it from you and see it on your face when you say it. Don't let your face betray what's coming out of your mouth. Be honest and mean what you say. Don't dress it up. Just say it. Verbal is good, but you also need to write it down. Put it on the staff bulletin board or in the organizational newsletter as a spotlight. Place it as an agenda item on meetings with the label "Staff & Volunteer Recognitions" or something similar. Identify the person and the reason for the recognition.

  • Show it: You show people that you recognize them by what you do and how you do it. Make a fuss over them and celebrate their contributions. Present an award or certificate at meetings or special ceremonies. Get creative. Show your appreciation for them with a tribute via a PowerPoint slide show or video presentation with photos of and messages from clients, co-workers or other volunteers, and yourself as the leader. Present them with a copy on CD or DVD. Show them that you value their contribution.

Volunteering is oftentimes a thankless job. When you say and show your appreciation for what volunteers contribute to your organization, you say a lot. You have to see it from their perspective. They are offering things of value- their time, ideas, and service. Your appreciation may be their most rewarding compensation next to serving.

Always make your recognition of your people: Personal, Public and Purposeful. Be sure to let your appreciation be known to those who need to hear it and see it. You need to ensure that you show appreciation to the people who deserve it and in front of the people who need to know that you value hard work, dedication and people.

Volunteer Strategies

Most churches and nonprofits are considered "volunteer-driven" organizations. Volunteers what drive these particular organizations. Schools, libraries and other similar institutions are also dependent on volunteers. Ensure that you at least cover the basics to draw and keep those who will serve in our organizations.

Volunteer Basics:
  • Recruitment
  • Resources
  • Recognition
  • Retention

Our recruitment should motivate people to join our team. It should help stimulate interest and share how any and many can get involved. Be sure to have the necessary resources for your volunteers and your staff who will supervise and manage your volunteers. Include recognition. When the "thankless" job never produces any acknowledgement, you can expect a revolving door of volunteers coming and going until someone learns how to say or show a "Thank You" somehow.

I saved retention for last because what you do with the previous items helps you retain people. You don't retain people when you don't keep supplies on hand and you fail to recognize their effort. Retention is about relationships. What type of relationships have been developed with your staff, clients, other volunteers, and others? That will make a difference in whether you are able to keep people on board or not.

Friday, July 23, 2010

What is Your Ministry Built Upon?


And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.-Matthew 7:27 (NASB)



One key and vital question in ministry today is both simple yet profound: what is your ministry built upon? Is it built upon rock or sand? What sort of foundation is your ministry standing upon? Is it something solid? Is it something that allows you to sleep well at night? Or, is it something that keeps you up at all hours of the night?

Before rising to new heights, let us first establish a firm foundation.

It may sound remedial or even rudimentary, but it is a highly critical question to ask of yourself and your ministry. You must identify where and upon what type of surface you have built your ministry. You have to clearly see if all your hard work has been based upon hearing and doing what the Word of God says. Or, have you been hearing the Word of God and making up your own blueprints along the way? What have you built your ministry upon?

Why do I ask this? It is simple. The foundation of any structure determines the longevity of the structure. There is no mystery that pyramids have withstood the test of time and weather in the Valley of Kings in Egypt, whether you believe in global warming or not. Such structures have a solid foundation. The same could be said of the Great Wall of China. It goes back to the foundation of the structure. If the foundation is weak, the entire structure is bound to collapse sooner than later. If the foundation is solid, then the structure is likely to stand the test of time and weather the storms and rain.



It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23(KJV)


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Where to Look for Your Next Pastor

And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.- Jeremiah 3:15 (KJV)


Pastoral search teams may be in the midst of either a quandary or a quarrel. It may be the mix of both. Some may want the loyal preacher who has been by the previous departed pastor's side for the past ten or fifteen years to take over beyond serving as interim pastor. Others may argue that the church is in need of new blood with fresh ideas because the church is dying and nearing a split if something isn't done soon. This may sound familiar. If not, please beware. It comes about in the life of most churches every time there is a transition in the pastoral leadership of the church.


There's division that comes with it. There's doubt and despair that emerge among the deacons and trustees. Debates surge. Divisions grow.


What can you do?
  • Look Inside: See what your people need in their leader. What do they expect out of the leader who will replace the one who baptized their children or even them? What do they need out of the person who will eulogize their loved ones and preach the Word Sunday by Sunday? See what it is and be mindful of it during your search.

  • Look Outside: Do not neglect what exists beyond your own church campus. Visit other church websites and read "About Our Pastor" and the pastoral message/ greeting. Talk to local churches that have done a pastoral search recently. Check with your district associations and state conventions, even local ministerial associations and networks. Identify what is out there that your church needs.

  • Look to God: Pray throughout the process. Spiritual warfare will slip in at any point that it can get in. Pray for spiritual power to withstand the process. Integrity will be tested. Faith will be tried. Many will simply cave in to pressure. Stay prayerful.



Remember what God shared with Jeremiah. He said that He would give the people "pastors." Let God orchestrate the selection process. It will surely show when you go along with God. It surely will not last nor be fruitful. He will give the people shepherds and pastors according to His own heart.

Fresh Ideas




"The only sure way to avoid making mistakes is to have no new ideas." — Albert Einstein






Imagine if there was nothing new offered by the church. What if no changes were made at all? What would be the immediate results? The pastor would be shocked as he stepped up to the pulpit to see that he looked out to see a sparse congregation with a sprinkling of people. Picture gearing up for another year at your Christian preparatory academy and discovering no new students and few returning students.


The church and nonprofit sectors are in need of fresh ideas. The old ones have grown stale and stagnant. The wisest man who ever lived said that there is nothing new under the sun, but I would bet that not many of us have ventured out throughout the entire world to know that for ourselves. Thus, we must approach each day as an opportunity to discover new and improved ideas.
  • Read daily: newspapers, magazines, trade publications, poetry, devotionals, biographies, etc. Read daily to learn new things. Slept through Shakespeare in high school? Read "Hamlet" or "Julius Caesar," even "Macbeth." Read and discover a new world each day. Or, you can at least learn more about the world you live in.

  • Record and revisit your dreams: Dreamers need to shift to becoming developers and designers. I believe Walt Disney must have been a dreamer. Henry Ford must have been a serious dreamer, too. If you are going to take your work into uncharted territory and go against the norm, you will need to build the blueprint as you go. Keep a journal, diary or daily agenda/ calendar with notes and ideas on a consistent basis.

  • Reflect on your life's path and destiny: Understand that where you have been has an impact on how you view things (perception), while your perception has an impact on how you view your present and future options and opportunities. A negative perception usually relates to pessimism, while a positive perception is usually related to optimism. Look back in order to see where you are headed. Did you recover from alcoholism or addiction? Maybe God wants you telling your story and assisting others in your church or community avoid similar pitfalls or recover from such experiences. Your testimony is not for your sake alone. God has someone who will be blessed by hearing it and others who will be blessed even further by coming to know.

Keep your ideas growing and developing. Always have a notebook and writing utensil. Use your cell phone. Palm, iPhone, Blackberry, Droid and other similar phones have "document" applications that can help record ideas and transfer to them to MS Word via micro SD card. Use what works for you. Just capture your ideas and work on them.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Teach Youth to Reach Youth

This was originally posted on one of my other blogs: http://lifepathministries.blogspot.com

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.- 1 Timothy 4:12 (NIV)


Some time ago, as we were developing a evangelism program called Youth-N2-Action, I shared the general concept with my children. They were in middle school at the time and found it difficult seeing themselves as evangelists. They had tagged along with me and had learned a lot about sharing the gospel through good works with the homeless and others, even door-to-door evangelism. Yet, I realized in that one conversation that they had been educated about salvation and evangelism methods but not edified to the point where they were comfortable and confident sharing it with their peers. Sadly, they are not alone when we look at the state of many of our Christian youth today.

We tend to sell our youth short. I say “we” because I have been guilty of it myself as well. Yet, there is a biblical solution. We need to engage our youth to become equipped and empowered to share the Word where they have influence. We need to teach and train young people to share the gospel on their own level and in their own way.


Our people must learn to do good by meeting the urgent needs of others; then they will not be unproductive.- Titus 3:14 (NLT)
The stats don’t tell it all. I was introduced to Christ as a teen. A friend approached me as I was shooting dice at school between classes and pronounced before all of my thugging and drugging buddies that he was going to pick me up for church that night. I laughed, but he came through and the Lord worked on me from there.

I believe that one day we will stop telling our teens what they shouldn’t do and who they shouldn’t hang around. We’ll start teaching and training them to be like Christ. Who ate with tax collectors and sinners? Who touched the untouchable and unclean? let them follow Jesus’ example and live out their faith. Teach them to share their faith with confidence. Help our youth to become ambassadors for Christ as they inspire and influence others for the sake of the Lord.

I am living, born-again proof that it works.

Enlarging Your Territory

Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, "Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain." And God granted his request.- 1 Chronicles 4:10 (NIV)

Jabez's prayer became quite popularized some years ago when a book by the same name was written by Dr. Bruce Wilkinson. The whole phenomena went off wildly beyond the book itself, with t-shirts, Bible covers, journals, and the like. What is amazing about the whole Jabez craze was the focus so many put on enlarging their territory rather than identifying what made Jabez the character stand out from among his brethren.

Verse 9 tells us that Jabez was "more honorable than his brothers." That speaks volumes when you see that his mother named him for her pain during giving birth to him. We do not have to study and search too deep to know that this verse alone shows that Jabez was not living out a self-fulling prophecy based upon his naming. Jabez cried to the Lord and was blessed because the Scriptures tell us that "God granted his request." Many of us would love to simply had that phrase alone attached to the story of our lives.

Are you seeking to enlarge your territory? I looked at these two verses and saw the simplicity of what God does with us when we are honorable and humble.

Enlarge your territory like Jabez. The prerequisite is to start off by not allowing circumstances or conditions to dictate your outlook. Your outlook can influence the outcome. What do I mean? Your perception of how things are and how things turn out can impact how you live with situations in your life.

Live an honorable and humble life regardless of how others are acting around you. Be sure to keep your eye on the prize without stepping on and over everyone on your way to the top. Failing to be humble and honorable can cost you.

Ask God for what you want and need. You need His provision as well as His protection. Before you go to God, see how He will get the glory from blessing you. God may not be blessing you right now. He may be trying to see what's the benefit if He blesses you.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Management Mess

The basis of life is people and how they relate to each other.
- John C. Maxwell, Be a People Person


Early on, when I started managing, I found myself in a mess. John Maxwell and Peter Drucker became my best friends to rely upon in those early days. Be a People Person certainly got my attention and helped me understand how to effectively work on myself in order to effectively lead and manage teams of people and deliver results. I learned a lot through the book and shared much of what I learned with others who struggled to survive the responsibility of management.


My experience has taught me a few certainties. One certainty that I have learned about management, whether it is for-profit or nonprofit, is that management can be a mess. It can become a mess if you let it. The management mess can be by decision or de facto. However, once it becomes a mess, it takes some serious work to untangle it all.


Typically, the management mess comes down to two major factors: people and paperwork. The people person may not be the most organized person so they lose as much credibility as paperwork. The pencil-pusher and policy-upholder may know the manual upside down and inside out, but they may leave a lot to be desired when it comes to relating to others. You have to know your strengths and work on your weaknesses. If you only work within your strength, you will always have a lop-sided performance. You will do what you love and avoid what you don't do well. There's no escaping what it requires to become effective.


Here's a short list of management titles that I have found useful:
  • Covey, Stephen, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
  • Blanchard, Ken and Spencer Johnson, The One Minute Manager
  • Drucker, Peter, The Effective Executive
  • Briner, Bob, The Management Methods of Jesus
  • Burkett, Larry, Business by the Book

Sent and Supplied

If God puts you there, He is amply sufficient.- Oswald Chambers

If the Lord sends you, He will most certainly supply you. That's how God is. It's how He works. He did it with Moses as He sent him to go before Pharaoh. He did it with Abram as He sent him from Ur of the Chaldeans to a land that He would show him. He did it with Jeremiah will He assured him that he knew him from the womb and had ordained him for a particular purpose.

He will give you exactly what you need to do exactly what He sent you to do. He will supply you for what He sent you to do. He supplies you to do what He calls you to do. His supply is sufficient. He does not always supply us with a surplus. His sufficiency is enough for us.

Go with God. Watch Him work on you. He'll start to work with you. He will begin to work through you.

And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.- 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NASB)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Lazarus Mode

Dear Pastor/ Bishop/ Elder/ Reverend XXXX:

The church that God has blessed you with is sick.

Sincerely,
Concerned Christian

Can you imagine that popping up on your Blackberry Messenger app right before Sunday services? How about if it was a note passed up to you via the ushers or deacons just as you are getting ready to start prayer meeting? Either way, it is alarming. In either case, you are taken aback at least for a moment. You may even be startled.

Someone didn't send you an instant message on your mobile. No one within your church or outside of it scribbled you a message about it. God didn't set a bush on fire nor did He send an angel to deliver you the news. It's been swimming and swirling around in your gut for some time now. It has preoccupied your sermon preparation and personal devotion. The signs are all around. There's something drastically wrong with your church and your ministry. In fact, it may not just be sick. It may be debilitating to the point of near-death. It may very well be in Lazarus Mode.

When I posted Signs of a Dying Church, I was already prepared to go further into it by addressing Lazarus Mode. The scenario is similar to the story. There are plenty of churches who are like Lazarus. The Lord loves them, but they are "sick" and closer to death than they think. Unfortunately, unlike Lazarus, this sickness may not glorify God at all. Such churches and ministries are in need of a "spiritual wake-up call." You don't want to look up and discover that your ministry has been declared dead by the Divine.

Keep aware of the signs. Be sure to make the necessary changes. Stay on fire and keep blessing and boasting on the Lord.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Ministry Mechanic: Ideas into Innovations

Ministry Mechanic: Ideas into Innovations: Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise!- Proverbs 6:6 (NLT)

Ideas into Innovations

Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise!
- Proverbs 6:6 (NLT)
Some people are full of ideas. Ideas just pop into their head all of the time. Inspiration and creativity spark inside their minds and they jot down something in a notebook or journal, even on their Blackberry or iPhone. They're simply full of ideas.
I empathize with such people, for I am one of them. However, as I reviewed some notebooks from a few years back and got drawn in deeper and deeper into my own notes and ideas, I realized that I was full of ideas and need to convert more of my ideas into innovations. I would imagine that that's the case with many others who share my flaw.
The Bible is full of verses that speak of productivity. Yes, I said productivity. Look at Psalm 1:3, John 15:8 and others that speak of fruitfulness, prosperity and service. Even as salt and light, we are called to produce something that leads to others glorifying the Father based upon what they see in us. Proverbs points out that the "lazybones" should look at the ant and take in the wisdom of such a creature who needs no supervisor or manager and is productive, being considered wise.
Here are some steps for converting your ideas into innovations:
  • Find Initiative: Get an idea about how to get started, but by all means get started and soon.
  • Focus Intensity: Keep your focus on doing and doing it right. Don't get so intense that you get distracted or detoured doing other things. Keep your intensity focused on the right things.
  • Fortify Infrastructure: Build beyond a "one hit wonder." Dream about other ways to enhance or expand your idea. Broaden the scope of your vision and build a structure that allows for it to grow and expand into a possible enterprise.
  • Formulate Innovations: Could your sermons become podcasts on iTunes or articles for online e-zines? Could you write a how-to article for your church or community newsletter on the topic? Could you blog or tweet regularly on related and relevant subjects centered around your idea? Think it out, and then plan it out. If you plan on going anywhere but where you currently are, you are going to need a map.

I pray that this is helpful to those who are full of ideas and inspired to convert those ideas into innovations.

Meeting Must-Haves

Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.
- Ecclesiastes 4:9 (KJV)

Meetings seem to be run-of-the-mill and dull when they simply are not in the right order for the right purpose. I addressed the idea of purpose in "Meetings Versus Ministry" some time ago, but I want to address some simple meeting "must-haves." These are the things that your meetings, whether for regularly-scheduled ministry, strategic planning with your board, or volunteer orientation, simply cannot do without as you move forward. By no means am I saying that this is an exhaustive list, but it is a list of some essentials for nearly every type of meeting.

  • Agenda: Previously emailed out to attendees; printed; Topics with time frame for each one
  • Sign-In Sheet: Keep track of who attends meeting; gather contact information
  • Minutes (From the Previous Meeting): Essential if people need to vote on approval; previously emailed out to attendees; printed and stapled or clipped together with supporting documents, i.e. grant applications/ proposals for review, reports, etc.
  • Reports: Previously emailed out to attendees; printed reports with supportive documents

Please note: The type of meeting you host will determine other essentials, i.e. whiteboard and dry erase markers, laptop and projector, and so on. Keep in mind that the longer you are meeting will dictate a greater need for water and refreshments or an actual meal. If you need people to work through lunch, either provide a break period for them to grab something nearby at the break room/cafeteria or be prepared to have lunch served. In most cases, you have to know your audience and your purpose for meeting in order to identify what else you may need.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Envision the Vision

Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained...- Proverbs 29:18 (NASB)



Can you see it?



For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.- Habakkuk 2:3 (KJV)



You should be able to visualize the vision. Let your mind run wild with mental pictures and images of what God wants you to do and what He wants to do through you. This image will help you put the vision in writing for others.



Can't get others to see it?



One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: "Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent- Acts 18:9 (NIV)



Put the vision in writing and in a visual. Take your trustees to that plot of land. Have someone create a sketch of what your new community center and worship house will look like upon initial completion. Make it simple and safe for others to catch the vision.



Where do you see yourself in three years? Or, how about five years? Get clear on what is included in the picture. Who is there with you? Are you beaming with pride or looking intently at the next opportunity over the horizon? See what condition you will be in at that phase of the journey. Keep the picture in mind.



God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. -Serenity Prayer

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ministry Makeover

Ministry Makeover

When what you really need is more than a touch-up.

Some ministries are in need of a makeover. Our experience working with minitries of varying sizes has led us to develop a ministry makeover. A ministry makeover allows ministry leaders to start the wheels turning for directional change in changing times.


Imagine trying to launch a new program without a communications plan. (Don’t laugh! That’s how some long-standing churches have started to split.) People can’t get on board when they haven’t been invited along for the ride. Picture a ministry expecting 100% participation from their congregation when they have not considered both internal and external factors such as conflicting community events or existing church programs already on the church’s calendar. People don’t buy in when they haven’t been sold on the idea.


Yes, the Lord is by our side. Prayer does change things and the Lord does yield the increase. Yet, we are to offer our best efforts in faith, exercising every resource that the Lord has provided to us. Let our team help you with what we have to offer through our Ministry Makeover. Contact us via email and discover some simple strategies for serving the Lord more effectively and efficiently.


originally posted @ http://urbanministry.org/blogs/saved2serve/2010/07/10/ministry-makeover/

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Sites for Support

I am an avid "web-crawler." I search the web for sites that can help me with my work and ministry. I have discovered some sites that truly can support you as you seek to enhance and expand your ministry for greater effectiveness in this day and age.

Here is a short list of sites for support:

  • http://www.outreach.com/ Great resources from banners to do-it-yourself templates; be sure to take a look at http://blog.outreach.com/ for tips and ideas on a wide range of outreach topics and http://www.outreachmagazine.com/ for articles and information on outreach. Look into their church-planting resources, too.
  • http://www.lifetreecafe.com/ If you are in ministry or seeking to get one started, here is a possible resource that will cause you to be "missional." Check out what this conversational and casual gathering can do for your church and the un-churched. Read what it's about. It will take some planning and strategies on your part.
  • http://www.lifechurch.tv/ This church is taking multi-site ministry into a whole new era. You have to check out their online worship experience as well as their resources and messages (even those that are not live.) Open is a great resource for downloads of templates and forms that will help administration and ministry leaders. YouVersion has to be one of my favorite sites on the web. With everything from "live" worship and the audio Bible to Bible reading plans and the means for sharing via Facebook and Twitter, this site will rock your world. Church Metrics is a cool free tool that allows you to track everything from attendance to commitments and baptisms. It's web-based and even has a mobile application for on-the-go ministry and small group leaders.
  • http://www.urbanministry.org/ Tons and tons of information and resources for "street ministry" and beyond. I use the Word Press blog application for Saved2Serve, our network for ministries, faith-based organizations and parachurches. You have to check out their Church Grants and Volunteer sub-sites. This site is a real winner.
  • http://www.ebase.org/ I like E-Base for nonprofits and donor tracking because it does something different than Church Metrics. This download allows you to track donors, volunteers, and other things such as outreach campaigns. It allows you to see what works and what doesn't in a data storage format almost like CRM software for business.

These sites are useful and worth exploring. I see them as mechanisms for strengthening and supporting your work in ministry. Be sure to visit our web database for the free download of "When the Laborers are Few." This will help those who have few "workers" for the harvest that is before them in their part of the vineyard.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Inspiration for Implementation

Ministry Mechanics: Inspiration for Implementation
Then the Lord replied:“Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it."- Habakkuk 2:2 (NIV)
Put your plans in writing in order to put them into action. Consider what it will take for others to run with it. How will you help others to wait for it and its appointed time? The Lord Himself says that it will certainly come. Put the vision in writing. Put the vision into action.
Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.-Ephesians 4:11-12 (NLT)


We all have been positioned for a purpose. Christ gave gifts to the church, the people of God, for a purpose. He provided gifts so that these gifts would be used for His purpose. These varying gifts are to be used in concert to help God’s people ready themselves for God’s work and build up the church. Consider why God has provided us with such positions. Rethink about your approach to Christian leadership.

Look at Position for a Purpose where a full document shares further about this topic. http://lifepathministries.christianarchives.org/.


Biblical Models of Ministry
Moses (delegation)
John the Baptist (behind-the-scenes leadership)
Paul (Mobilizing ministry)
Modernize the methods of ministry
John the Baptist: preparing the way
Jesus Christ: preaching and teaching
Paul: mobilized ministry
Show & Prove (James 2:14-19, 26)



“Our purpose in all things is to please God.”- John Wesley
Ask yourself if you are living up to such a calling. See if your life matches up with giving God your best effort. After all, in the end, we do it for His glory. It is not for the kudos that we could get from our friends and co-workers. We do so to the glory of God, expecting nothing for ourselves.
Originally posted@ Saved2Serve Blog
Ministry Mechanics: We promote success while providing support to organizations, ministries, grassroots and community-based groups, faith-based programs, nonprofits, and small business. Contact us for a Ministry Makeover or any of our other services whether standard or customized: revbruce@ministriesinaction.com

12 Things to Change Your Ministry

Ministry Mechanics:
12 Things to Change Your Ministry (And This World)

1. Pray for God's will, not just success (Matthew 26:39)
2. Study the Bible (morning, noon and night) (Psalm 1:2)
3. Promote Christian fellowship (Romans 14:19)
4. Reach out to someone like Christ did (Mark 16:15)
5. Speak kindly of and to others (Matthew 5:44)
6. Give graciously (Luke 6:38)
7. Support others in recovery and restoration (Exodus 6:6)
8. Train your replacement (John 13:15)
9. Market your ministry (Psalm 34:1)
10. Build a community (Acts 2:44)
11. Develop a personal mission statement (Isaiah 61:1-2)
12. Worship while you "work" (Psalm 100:2)

There are numerous other activities that one could do, but these 12 serve as a starting point to keep in mind as you seek to bring about change. If you are going to serve as an "agent of change," you will need to be ready and willing to implement change.

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Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Count Your Blessings

Quick Tip: Count Your Blessings

Here is a quick tip you can use with your co-workers, at weekly parent empowerment sessions, or in other areas of your work beyond Freedom School. Do this exercise called "Count Your Blessings." In this exercise, you will have everyone present identify their various blessings in life. Each person should reflect on their blessings such as children, spouse, personal experiences, etc. Give people about 1-2 minutes. Then, have each person share what they consider their most important blessing and why. Complete the exercise by thanking everyone for sharing and asking everyone to keep in mind the blessings that came to mind for them and hold on to what's most important. This exercise helps put what really matters in perspective and allows you to get to know those who share at a different level.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Signs of a Dying Church

"If you are not growing, you're dying."- Rick Warren






It was a profound statement in The Purpose Driven Church. It stood out. It said a lot in a brief conditional statement. Not growing? You most probably are dying. You may not want to hear it, but its sting is real.








  • Are there unmet needs within your church?




  • Are you evangelizing?




  • Is your congregation making an impact on its community?




  • How is your participation for Sunday school, prayer meeting, and Bible study?




  • Is there demographic diversity within your church (gender, age, ethnicity, etc.)?




  • Are you baptizing and indoctrinating new members? How often? Do they stay?




  • What do people say about your church in the community (barbershop, beauty salon, social gatherings, etc.)?


Beyond all of these questions, you have to take a long hard look at what is happening around you. Is there a drop in offerings and tithes? Is your attendance off? Is it just a gut feeling? or, do you really know so because of the data. Have your staff or trustee board develop spreadsheets and charts that give you some accurate numbers to start working with as soon as possible. Start talking with stakeholders like staff, key volunteers like ministry leaders, deacons, elders, and trustees, and others. See what is really going on.


Have you noticed these signs in your church? One or more may be present at the same time.


Signs of a dying church?




  • Complacency


  • Conflicts


  • Commonplace


  • Closed-mindedness

There are more signs, but this is just a short list of the signs that lead to death. If these are recurring problems for your congregation, start thinking of how to change hearts and minds. Do you need to start a church-wide campaign like a Bible study series on discipleship or church conduct? Could you conduct a retreat with your key stakeholders? How about conducting a S.W.O.T. analysis and developing some concrete action steps? Maybe your congregation would benefit from a simple sermon series on the Sermon on the Mount or the Beatitudes, even the early church, with a follow-up study in small groups or Sunday school.


You need to stop the bleeding at least. You need to bring the life back into your church. Remember: if you are not dying, you may be simply decaying which is only a slow death nonetheless.




"The minister is to use all means to save some."- C.H. Spurgeon











Monday, July 5, 2010

Multimedia Ministry Tools

...These that have turned the world upside down are come here also.- Acts 17:6 (KJV)
Christians are called to do something with the Word. In fact, they are called to do something with the Word in the world. (Why am I using "they," we are the unified body of Christ so let me use "we" and "us.")
We should use all that we have to turn the world upside down where we go in the world. Whether it be work, school, college or the community, we are to be used by God to share His Word as we interact with this world.
Here are some tools we can use:

Think about how you can use your tech tools to turn the world upside down.

Produce Much Fruit

When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.- John 15:8 (NLT)
Ultimately, Christian servants are to produce much fruit. Fruit serves s evidence of our faithful work. Our fruitfulness speaks volumes to others about what we offer to the glory of God. When we're faithful, we have the potential to become fruitful. Our faithfulness can lead to our fruitfulness.
God wants us producing much fruit. The Lord does not entertain us working on something that does not have a lasting impact. He speaks of fruit as part of being His true disciples. His words on discipleship related to what we produce in His name for the Father's glory.
Are you a productive Christian? How do you know or not? Look at your fruit. Look at its quality and look at its quantity. If it is good fruit, its seeds will produce more fruit. The quality will lead to its quantity. The quantity will be much fruit due to its seeds being spread into other areas. look t the quality and quantity. See if you are producing much fruit.