Sunday, May 6, 2012

Letter to Hospitality - Rock Church

I wrote this email to the Hospitality Team at my church.  I realized how overlooked they are yet how critical they are.  Thought it'd be worth sharing.  If you work on the hospitality (aka: usher / greeter /etc...) team at your church - be encouraged.  You play an incredible role in your church.  

Hospitality Team -

I want to take a moment and encourage one of the most important teams at the Rock.  Now…I know that every team at the Rock would say they are "one of the most important" - and I'm sure there is some truth to that claim – but in my opinion, Hospitality is, truly, one of the most critical teams at this amazing church.  Here is why:
  • You shape people's first and last impression of the Rock.
  • You are the glue that holds Sunday together.
  • Every Sunday over 13K people see what a healthy and high functioning Rock ministry team looks like.
  • Your positive attitude and demonstration of Jesus encourages every other Sunday team, from Production to Security – you interface with everyone.
Important teams doing important work will be attacked.  I've never seen that more powerfully than at the Rock.  I could tell you some amazing stories of attack – but I don't need to because you all see it already within your own team.  

Hospitality is making a difference.  You guys matter so much I don't know where to begin.  I am blessed every week to walk past you in the lobby, hallways, entrances, exits, etc… and see how professionally and lovingly you do your job.  You make the Rock look good….you give this church a loving face….yet you control the masses in a very effective and appropriate way.   Most importantly – you set the table for people to have a personal encounter with Jesus every week.  Every person that makes a decision for Christ has come in contact with someone from Hospitality.  That connection point can either help or hinder people's heart and readiness to deal with themselves.  When you see powerful altar calls on Sunday – I want you to remember how important your contribution is to that moment.  Miles seals the deal – but a very large team helps plant and water the seeds.

You do a fantastic job and I appreciate you more than you'll know. 


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

3 Ways Leaders Foster Healthy Culture

If you are a leader in your org then you are shaping its culture; whether you intend to or not; want to or not. The best leaders shape their culture intentionally - not accidentally.

Here are 3 things I've recently realized:

1. Authenticity and vulnerability with those you lead will increase their trust in you and willingness to mimic that behavior with each other.

2. Do not create insiders and outsiders with your staff. Everyone you lead should feel like they are on the inside of your department's purpose - a key stakeholder - a partner not employee.

3. Be the #1 encourager - the #1 cheerleader - the most optimistic - and a far better coach than critic. Your staff beat themselves up enough. They need you to build them up, even when you are disciplining or course correcting.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Building Trust

Thousands of books have been written on leadership. In my limited experience, most of the books are redundant and a repackaging of the same fundamentals. This isn't bad - and sometimes the new angle is really helpful - but if you read one book by Jim Collins, Patrick Lencioni, and Ram Charan - you are pretty much there.

Recently I've discovered a simple skill that separates effective leaders from the rest of the pack; and ironically, it's written about very little. Effective leaders understand that every interaction is either building or eroding trust and they make intentional decisions to build it. This is especially true when meeting with senior leadership. The questions you ask - comments you make - body language - how you express yourself; it all contributes to]trust - which is everything.

Often very well-intentioned leaders erode trust. They are hard workers - invested - but make tragic mistakes in meetings that mitigate their colleagues and supervisors ability to trust them. When that goes unchanged for 12 months or more - it is time to make a change. Perhaps not a termination - but certainly a reality check about the future. Often this drives the employee out of the organization, which ultimately works to their benefit because they dive into a new tank and are forced to survive and grow; or be eaten. In that new environment they become more self aware and fix the fatal flaws.....and live happily ever after :)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Manifesto - Rock Church Creative Dept.

In 2012 things will feel different. God is doing new things…taking the Rock to new places. New means that several of the systems and structures and values that have carried us through 2011 will NOT be those we require in 2012…so get ready – get engaged – change is coming….again.

In 2012 our interactions will ooze innovation – creativity – dialog – strategy – and support. There will be no room for cynicism – back–biting – complaining – toxic – immaturity.

In 2012 we will continue to take risks – to think differently – to move beyond existing comfort zones of thought and behavior.

In 2012 we will grow more self aware – and even more others aware. We will give and receive feedback and our communication will be marked by truth and kindness.

In 2012 lines of power and authority will flatten. May the best idea win….regardless of who initiates it.

In 2012 we will work harder and smarter. Smarter = more disciplined and focussed.

In 2012 the motivation to excel and deliver will be internal far more than external. Apathy will not be tolerated.

What can you expect? First – everything stated above will be ruthlessly modeled by me and your department heads. If it isn't – you have my permission to appropriately call it out. Second – I am working with our Dept Heads to evaluate Creative department structures in light of where God is taking us (Multi-Site / On-Line Church). Things will likely change in every dept. Finally – development and coaching will be far more intentional than in 2011. Your growth and development is as critical as your productivity and responsibility.

Get ready – 2012 will be as incredible as you choose to make it.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Spiritual Development....what I'm learning

A few months ago God gave me a "crisis moment." By "crisis moment", I mean a single event that resulted in exposing some areas of weakness, pride, and immaturity that touched all areas of my life; including work, leadership, home, etc… I'm fortunate to work in an environment where good meaning people were willing to walk with me through the situation and give me some needed space to navigate these areas of growth.

It was tempting to get lost in the "less than fair or helpful" realities of how my crisis moment played out - but thanks to some significant people in my life, I've been able to occupy a posture of humility and learning as I walk through this "dark night of the soul." Ironically, the leadership magazine I read the most published their October issue with that very title…and I received it just 3 days after things hit the fan. It's fun to see God's timing in even the little things of life.

Over the past three months I've taken my health more seriously; reading, writing, reflecting, walking, exercise, sleep, etc… I've found that it's all very holistic…and I've found that when one of these important life-giving activities is compromised, the weakness is not isolated to the particular activity…but insidiously creeps into the rest of life, and before I know it…everything is a off…then more off…then more off; but ironically, I don't really see it because I'm so busy and because the demise is slow enough for me not to notice. This is the progression that ultimately led to my crisis. Like the "frog in the kettle" - the water of my life was slowly turning into a hot boil…and had God not brought a catalytic event into my life, I would probably still be in the water today - just dead.

During this season of more intentional reflection and prayer, the things I've been learning can be summarized in three statements. 1) Intellectual growth is not spiritual formation; and if anything can become a barrier to formation. 2) The vision God has called HIs church to is far greater than human strength alone can achieve and my leadership has got to model this for my staff. 3) The two cultural lies that are slowly killing me: 1) busy = important and 2) working harder = being more effective.

Two pieces of literature that have been used by God to metaphorically give me insight into my leadership and growth are: 1) The Rock (T.S. Elliot) and 2) the image of the harpoonist in Moby Dick by Herman Melville.

To unpack the Harpoonist illustration, Melville says, "to ensure the greatest efficiency in the harpoon, the harpoonists of this world must rise to their feet out of idleness and not out of toil." So as the rest of the boat is working furiously trying to keep up with the whale…battling the sea…strong winds…screaming and yelling….the harpoonist is at rest…waiting for their moment to take place. And frankly, if the harpoonist screws up…the rest of the boat might as well have never left the dock.

This is a great picture of pastoral leadership. Pastors have to intentionally go against the grain of our frenetic and busy society. We cannot buy the same lies about value and identity that shape our culture. We cannot live by the same rules. In that way pastors (church staff) are subversive…we are against the grain of culture…we are not "seeker sensitive" at all. We are productive - yes…but led by the reigns and bit of culture we are not. And hopefully, when our moment to "throw the harpoon" comes….we are ready, we are effective, we are spot-on.

In many ways I struggle with this; who wouldn't. The staff I lead are normally working beyond their capacity and busting their butt because "it's the church." Ironically we pastor and executive leaders not only allow this…we encourage it. GIving myself permission to rest - to not be working at the same frenetic pace as my staff - to leave the office when they cannot - to spend time reading and reflecting when they do not….it all feels quite wrong to me. Now..I understand that it isn't wrong…intellectually. But emotionally I believe I am not of value or helpful to my staff if I am not toiling with them. This is where leadership rubber meets the road. Do we have the convictions and ability as leaders to model something that isn't currently happening? To pave the way towards a better reality that isn't yet realized? To go against the grain of the culture so deeply rooted in the church that it's a wonder we know how to minister to those outside the church?

Reflecting on my 2nd point - (vision is too large for human power alone) - this issue of "counter cultural leadership" is probably the single most important element of the Rock being able to go to the next level. Can the leadership of the Rock conduct themselves in such a way as to demonstrate that the vision God has called us to is HIS - not ours to achieve? I suppose in my own way…this is what I'm wrestling with.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Slingshot Group

Church is hard work...but worth it.

In my opinion the local church is one of the hardest organizations on earth to lead well because it is dealing with one of the most complex and important of issues of life - worship. Worship is complex because it is so all encompassing and creates significant tension. For instance, worship is simultaneously verb and noun - action and object - theology and culture - traditional and modern. It is where our preferences play out - where our heart strings are most often played - and where God reorientates us towards Him, towards the priorities that actually matter.

God cares deeply about the worship culture of your church. God wants you, and those you worship with, to have an experience of Him that is not simply intellectual OR emotional....but both intellectual AND emotional. As church leaders (on and off staff) it is our responsibility to shape our worship experiences in ways that allow this to take place. Unfortunately there isn't an instruction one-size-fits all solutions - and what God is doing in one church may be culturally and stylistically antithetical to the work He is doing in another.

As for me......I love all of this stuff. Complexity - culture - worship - style - etc... It's not can often be messy...but the church is where God has called me to spend my career....and I have gladly accepted. Getting to "mix it up" with churches all over the globe and work to discern what God is saying and doing in their midst is a distinct privilege I will never take for granted; and Slingshot Group is something I hope to be part of for the rest of my life.

If you resonate with any part of this blog, get involved and:

And if you or anybody you know is struggling with worship change, staffing, design, culture, new call, etc... Please message me on FaceBook because I'd love to be of help.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Art of the Wok

I just finished reading Grace Young's elegant story of Cantonese cuisine and the simple but critical tool (aka - WOK) used in its creation. I'm fascinated with food (and wine) and this was my first dip into the complex world of Chinese cuisine.

While reading about the life of a Cantonese chef I was struck by how much patience, dedication, and discipline is needed to excel in an art form that seems, from the outside, to be so simple and straightforward. Get wok hot - add oil - quick saute - serve. One wok - a hot flame (often over 100,000 BTU) and simple ingredients...easy. Not really. The average Cantonese Wok Chef first apprentices for 3 -5 years before ever manning his own station. Once graduated, he achieves the first of 4 levels of wok chef. Each level might take upwards of 5 years to achieve. Most master wok chefs have over 25 years of experience with the same tool, heat, and limited ingredients.

Artistic excellence takes time - dedication - and mastery. Whether ceramics, oil, piano, or wok, to contribute good art to the world requires a level of dedication and devotion of time to your craft. The results speak for themselves. In his new book Outliers, Malcom Gladwell suggests that we need roughly 10,000 hours to bring any craft up to a level where success and/or excellence is possible.

Bottom line - fine something you love, have base level competency with, and work your butt off.