Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Most people who know me would have opinions on what my biggest challenge is.  Let me reveal it now so you can focus on this post. It’s me. My biggest challenge has always been, and will always be, me. Focusing on what God has called me to every moment or – as our Pastor has said hundreds of times – “doing the next right thing” will always be my biggest challenge.

On to my second biggest challenge:  Rarely – well, on occasion…truth be told, nearly every week I vent (refer back to paragraph one) to my wife about something involving volunteerism or volunteers. I’ll express concern to her about a volunteer just not getting it when it comes to a ministry or responsibility. Relax – if you’re taking the time to read this, it’s not you.

Claudia’s default response to me of late has been “Kim, they’re volunteers.” That phrase woke me up at 2:33 a.m. recently. What I remember waking to was a teaching around here that I’ve heard more than a hundred times:  “Excellence Matters to God.”

When I bottom-line Claudia’s response, I get what she’s saying…I’m the staff person, I get paid and volunteers don’t. Part of me gets that. About five percent of me. It’s in the 95% where my second biggest challenge lies: helping volunteers who follow Christ understand that they are equally as vested in the mission, vision and values as any staff member.

I’m not talking about equal hours invested in ministry. I’m speaking in terms of stewardship – the stewardship of our available time, focused with excellence to serve for the cause of Christ. Excellence in our ministries matters to God whether individuals are paid or not. Giving our best, as if it matters to the cause of Christ (because it does), will change our entire perspective of how we prepare, present and perform our ministry.

Our volunteers – your volunteers are on the front line of this battle. It’s only in games like Risk where the “soldiers” on the map have no influence on the outcome of the mission.

It doesn’t matter the ministry. If we fail to internalize and live out that what we’re participating in has the potential to impact a life for the Kingdom, then we’ll never give it our all. (As a side note, if it doesn’t have the potential to impact a life, cancel it.)

I pray for our leaders to get this, I pray for them to challenge their team members to leave nothing at their “post” when they leave, to fully engage themselves in the ministry at hand, to be focused and intentionally seeking out how God will use them in the next moment to help others take a step towards Christ.

Man, if I could get this solved I’d get more sleep.

We’ve just celebrated an amazing conference here at GCC called ReInnovate. Many, including myself, left with a lot of new tools in the box to reach others outside the box:) As always, there were arts that spoke to the heart, opened our eyes, and left attendees with ideas that will revitalize the true meaning of  “the church”.

I had the honor to catch up with some friends, meet some new ministry partners, and be reminded once again of what a privilege it is to be a part of this local effort to resource the body of Christ.

Today I want to share with you another tool that will go a long way in helping your leaders and volunteer teams grasp some of the best practices in guest services.  It’s a video training that Mark Waltz has made available. I’ve copied his post and summary here.

Often times, the barriers that keep guests from returning are the “first impressions” that we’ve not trained our teams to make. We’re just like you; in that, we want our guests to come back! We want them to hear the life-changing message of Christ. We want them taking next steps, growing and engaging their faith 24/7.

Mark won’t say it, but just like his books, there are no better tools available on the planet to help your teams rise beyond the expectations of any guest entering your facility. In this video production, you’ll find effective and practical training that will remove many of those obstacles standing in the way of achieving that goal. They’ll help you take these practices outside the walls of the building where you meet. In addition to providing specific training to your teams, there’s a special session for leaders that gets to the core of great volunteer leadership.

Invest in the commitment of resourcing your teams and leaders. You’ll find a snippet here…You’ll not regret it.

In case you’ve not heard, Granger Community Church is within weeks of completing the expansion of our newly developed Atrium space. In my 17 years with the ministry here, there has never been more happening at one time.  There’s a wave of excitement in every department while nearly every ministry team is experiencing, or soon to be experiencing, change. It’s just the New Normal…,and I like it!

Here’s a thought that came to mind recently as I considered all that’s in front of our Guest Services teams. Whenever a change of this magnitude happens, it’s a great time to cast vision for additional changes you’ve dreamed of or thought should have happened long ago or to just process with leaders about what’s effective and…well, what’s in need of tweaking.

This newly developed Atrium space, and all that goes with it, is but one part of the global change happening here at GCC. We’re laser-focused on what it takes to reach our communities for Christ. This Atrium space is part of the 2016 Vision, and it’s going to change the way our Guest Services teams interact. It will create opportunities we’ve not had before. There’s a sign posted in the construction “window” for our teams and guests to consider-it reads, in part:

Think about a comfortable and artistic place that’s open to the regional community during the week, not just for Granger church people or services. Everything will be designed as an invitation—from soft seating with conversations and mini-meetings in mind to inspirational retail, from quality food and beverages to good music. People will meet and friends can gather—no strings attached. Think of this campus as the building where the church gathers, not a place that is the church itself.

Bring friends who might not be willing to sit in the auditorium in a straight row, but would feel more comfortable sitting in a soft chair or at a cafe table with you while sipping a latte or eating a sandwich.

In addition to the change in physical space and logistics for our teams and guests, we’re examining ways to strengthen our teams as well. Here’s something we’re taking from our Elkhart Campus. Beginning sometime in August, all Guest Services team members, (normally 50 per service) will “huddle” before each day’s services before being sent to ministry points. It won’t be a long gathering, but I’m convinced it will bring unity and a better understanding of the big picture. It’s a time to cast vision, share best practices and experiences, encourage one another and most importantly, corporately seek God’s help and blessing on what’s about to happen.

Change is good, and when combined with an opportune time, it can be great.

Allow me, if you will, to put on my Director of Volunteer Involvement hat and share a few thoughts with you that I’ve just shared with some staff members. I’ve asked them to consider again, how to build into their leaders so that those same leaders will lead with strength. Here’s how it went:

Recently, I’ve been reminded to look at a few important things to keep in front of any team leader you’ve entrusted to lead. Perhaps you’ve nailed all of these- we’ve heard them all before. Maybe this is just an exercise for me but I figured I’d send it along to let you assess how you’re doing with it too.

As for me, I’ve once again learned that there is nothing more important than keeping the vision of your ministry in front of your leaders and requiring them to keep that in front of their team-your teams. How do you do that? You have to communicate with them….and often. What do you communicate? Things like:

  • Clarify the win for your team, your ministry. Share with your leaders what really matters as they lead those God has entrusted them with. Make sure your leaders know that what they’re doing is making a difference-more importantly, make sure they communicate that to their team members
  • Communicate your expectations with your leaders so they know what’s required of them as they lead those who make your ministries a life changing force. Things like follow through, like best practices for your ministry. Develop a set of expectations for your leaders and ask how that’s going
  • Encourage your leaders, build into them so they will model the same for their team members. Set the example by sending them the notes, by calling them without an “ask,” by sharing stories of impact that happen because of their ministry, by knowing their spouse’s name or their cats name
  • Care for your leaders in their time of need, again, so they will care for their teams. Pray for them, let them know you’re praying and ask them to do the same for their team members
  • Be present for your leaders and their teams, make the time to be social and expect them to offer the same for the team they lead

As you know, I didn’t come up with this stuff, I just know that when applied, it works. You’re teams will rock when these things are happening and when a team rocks, our ministries impact will rock, and when our ministries rock, changed lives happen-not only those we intend to reach with our ministry but for team members on the journey with us.

Last week, I returned from the LifeServe conference in Louisville, KY. It seemed to me that since this conference was focused on the ministry I’m charged with, I thought this might be worth attending so I could learn from and connect with others about this whole “engaging” process.

Six months ago – when I investigated the conference – I discovered that my boss, Mark Waltz (the guru of Guest Services himself), would be one of the conference leaders teaching. So, it seemed only natural to make the trip with him. On a side note: His teachings were amazing! If I could have given each attendee a collection of his books, the world of Guest Services in our churches would be changed forever.

Here’s what I’ve been convinced of over the last 10 years. Granger Community Church has always been a leading force in creating a culture of volunteerism and leadership. We’ve learned from the very best around the country and have developed our share of inspiration over the years as well.

So here’s what I sought God for before leaving on our eight-hour flight to Kentucky – and if you’re doing the math, you’re realizing that there were flight issues from Northern Indiana. That may be a post for another time 🙂

I sought God for three things:

Let me gain from the wisdom of others

Allow me to speak into the lives of a few ministry attendees

Help me to leave with a few new friends in ministry.

Photo Credit: Tim Bath

God is so good. He inspired me once again from the incredible ministry and teaching of others on this journey. He spoke to me through much of what I’ve always known. He spoke to me through others as they shared insight on their strategies to engage volunteers and guests who attend their church. God allowed me the incredible privilege of sharing principles that have worked so well in our culture with others who are on the journey.

I left knowing that although I have a bunch of head knowledge when it comes to practices and principles, I have yet to go so far in the application realm. I’m grateful for that challenge and awareness. It will make me a better leader and it has encouraged me to push even harder toward obtaining goals, creating environments of growth and establishing opportunities for communicating vision to those engaged in the process with me locally.

God allowed me to meet others whom I’ve followed or have followed the path Christ has led our church leadership on for almost 25 years. These great leaders I met have a fresh vision and passion for their ministries. They refreshed me through engaging conversations and enthusiasm that could not be bridled.

Once again, I’m focused and grateful to God – the creator of the universe – who spoke into me through the Church across the country where He is at work.

I’m blessed. So blessed.

The first time I met the “better half” of this duo was about five years ago. Mayra Sandoval-Cooper came into the arts department speaking to me of creating imagery out of sand or some such discussion (it could have been sculptures or paintings, too) What I do remember was thinking “this lady’s got passion and loves the arts; I think I’ll see if she can run words for our weekend services.” My job isn’t rocket science.

That was Mayra’s entrance to volunteering. Although she remains a member of the arts team, her first passion in ministry is with her husband, Ken, as the two of them partner to lead Son City Kids.

Son City Kids, I’m convinced, is where Jesus would be spending much of His time if He had come to South Bend in 2001, the year the ministry was birthed. The Coopers, along with their team of volunteers, specialize in loving children and creating an environment where the love of Jesus is exposed to “their kids” and to the children’s parents.

Ken and Mayra have intentionally downsized their business venture in order to lead this amazing ministry and its volunteers into one of the most heartfelt ministries offered through Granger Community Church. Just a weekend ago, the annual Son City Kids Carnival exploded into action again. A fire truck was made available to spray water to help quench the 100 degree temps along with activities such as face painting and water slides. Like any good carnival, hotdogs, popcorn and snow cones were served up…only without the cost. There was no end to the action as hundreds of children visited the annual event.

Here are a couple of stories I’ve been able to dig about these two rock stars:

“Ken and Mayra can be caught often walking through the Monroe Circle meeting with kids and their parents. Ken is like a Rock star of sorts. When you walk through the neighborhood with Ken you realize they all love and respect him as you hear nothing but the chants of kids and parents alike calling out his name, “Coop!”

“Coop walks through the middle of gangs, some of which have grown up in SCK. ‘I know a better way,’ Coop suggests. The boys smile, shaking their heads at this old white guy wearing a lime green SCK t-shirt with a smile as big as Texas and saying, ‘I know Coop.’ Coop can always be found walking through the community making sure kids are signed up for the upcoming events.”

“Currently, Coop took on the head coach position of the SCK sports program after the original coach relocated out of the area. Even after putting in a full day at his business, he makes sure he gets everything together for the baseball game … then he puts on his coaching hat.”

“At anytime you can expect that Mayra or Ken will receive a text or call from the teens they have poured their lives into stating how much they love and appreciate Mayra and Coop for all that they’ve done. For many of the kids, the Coopers have stepped in to assume the parent role.”

“Ken and Mayra are often caught finding and moving furniture to anyone needing it in Monroe Circle.”

You two are changing the community for Christ! You are truly Rock stars in ministry here at Granger Community Church. Thank you!

Who is this guy who shows up with teams of gifted construction workers to gut an entire building and transform it into a place that rocks our community with the love of Christ?  An entire building would be an understatement-more like an entire block.

Mark Scott would be the first to tell you that it’s a team of volunteers who’s combined effort has impacted the community for Christ. He’s right too-without his team little would have happened. That’s not the point though.  Mark’s been leading charge with this ministry for several years and because of his love for a transformed heart, he’s willing to give hundreds of hours every year to make sure things continue to happen.

Jack Magruder, Director of Life Missions for Granger Community Church puts it this way:

“Mark is one of the most ‘all in’ people that I have ever met.  Nothing in his life is off-limits from Jesus or his devotion to the Kingdom of God.  In all aspects and spheres of his life and world, Mark simply brings all that he is and all that he has to bear to whatever mission is at hand.  His family serves both as individuals and as a group in a variety of capacities on and off-campus, and Mark brings his workplace and business expertise as a master builder and construction company owner to projects ranging from MC3 to 2nd Saturday to the Veteran’s Center initiative.  He leads the GCC Construction Team, is incredibly generous with his time, his finances, his talents and his resources, and can always be counted on to not only show up, but deliver with excellence on any project.”

Mark will always shine the light back to Jesus and his team, and he’s not willing to let that light stop as long as long as God gives him breath.  Mark’s a leader of leaders, pulling in partners and resources in the community for an impact that goes far beyond what his incredible team could do on their own. When recently asked to take on the directorship role for the renovation of the Veterans Center in South Bend Indiana, Mark accepted the challenge under the condition that the entire forced salary would be used to purchase all the tools and equipment the team called Carpenters Hands Ministry will ever need. Can you say generous? Amazing.

If there’s one thing this Rockstar hates, it’s any type of recognition that points to him. Fortunate for me, he’s not my editor. To Mark, it’s all about team and following God’s call.

Mark’s team of volunteers will forever be grateful for his vision, leadership, his care, his compassion and drive that takes on projects of seemingly enormous unreachable goals.  He and his team, transform not only buildings, but lives so that Jesus is honored and hearts and lives can be changed for eternity.

Thank you Mark Scott for making a difference in not only the lives of volunteers but in the lives of those who are the recipients of Christ’s love through your leadership.

If you’re just joining the post, you’ll need to jump back here to get the context 🙂

(Guest Services, Leaders)

Are leaders taking their role seriously to lead volunteers or is it a status thing to be the head honcho? Leading teams of people is so much more than directing and dictating information to them; it’s the empowering, encouraging, building into them, creating opportunities for community, all because they matter to God. So, are you leading?

  • As a leader, because your people matter, do your team members know you well enough to call on you when life throws that curve ball, or are they just calling you to tell you they can’t keep a commitment. Worse yet, are they just calling for a commitment?
  • Leaders, do you know the prayer concerns, the hurts of your team members and is there a time you set aside (because your people matter) to seek God on their behalf? Is seeking God on their behalf seen as a privilege by you as their leader rather than a promise to keep?
  • Leaders, if your team members don’t have the opportunity to look at your eyes as you tell them that they matter, that their ministry matters, who then will convince them that what they give up their time for is making a difference?  Who’s telling them that what they’re doing is a link in the chain to guests who have yet to understand that they matter to God? Are you communicating the wins in your ministry to the team?
  • As a leader, would you notice if a team member has been missing for a couple of months and would you know why?
  • Leaders, are you making sure that great team communications are happening? Does the team know what’s happening, what they’re celebrating and what the needs of the ministry and the teammates are?

Leaders, you have the incredible privilege to “clarify the win” to teams of your awesome volunteers. You matter to God. Your volunteers matter to God. It’s the same message just translated a little different because of your responsibilities.  Tomorrow, we’ll look at how your volunteers translate the win to the guests that we all serve because, yes, they matter to God.

For a little over a year now, I’ve had the opportunity to lead point on the Volunteer Ministries of Granger Community Church. Most recently, I’ve been asked to lead our Guest Services team here on the Granger Campus as my boss, Mark Waltz, pastors the Elkhart Campus. The good news in this second challenge is that there are some great leaders in place who’ve sat under Mark’s tutelage (did I just type that word?) for a long time.  This additional responsibility has given me reason to revisit some basic leadership teachings on team development as it relates specifically to Guest Services here at GCC.

Digging through some early goals I set a year ago, I came across a notation to apply a simple Andy Stanley principle: “Clarify the Win.” That seemed like a great place to start when developing a strategy for volunteer care and connection.  In any organization, clarifying the win is not only different because of the organization, but also accomplished differently depending on the level of one’s leadership role.

For example, let’s say that the win for the Guest Services department is communicating in such a way that people know that they matter to God. That win is accomplished and communicated at several ways and at different levels of leadership.

In Part 1 of this post, I want to look at how the staff might “clarify the win” to their volunteer leaders. Tomorrow, we’ll look at how these same volunteer leaders can then translate the win – communicating so people know they matter to God – to other volunteers who serve so faithfully on their teams. On Wednesday, I’ll explain how these same team members go about bringing value to our guests so they know that they matter to God.

(Guest Services, Staff)

  •  As staff, are we empowering and encouraging our leaders because they matter or are we doing it because we’ve got to “get it done?
  •  As staff, are we building a sense of community among those we lead because we’ve been reminded to or because our leaders matter?
  •  As staff, are we praying for our leaders to just “get it off the list” or is it because we love them and are passionate about God’s best for them?
  •  As staff, are we continually communicating (verbal and non-verbal) the importance of the individual and the ministry?  Do they know we’re there for them and available to help them accomplish ministry goals for their team members?
  • As staff, have we communicated that our leaders matter to God by having the difficult conversations when our leaders are out of alignment with God’s will for their life?
  • This one’s going to hurt: As staff, have we led the way by setting aside time when we serve others outside of when our “official” staff hat is on? Have we purposed to serve others outside of our job description- so others know they matter to God?
  • As staff, have we communicated that people matter by the way we speak with fellow staffers about others? Yep, there are conversations that have to happen at a staff level but are those conversations tendered with compassion while honoring those who serve Christ through our ministries?
  • Finally, have we, as staff, communicated that our leaders matter by giving our time to minister to them?

In closing this first of three posts, I’ll confess that I’ve had to work through all of these and have yet to master any of them.  I’m aware of them and have made great progress so that my leaders will know without a doubt that they matter to God and, therefore, they matter to me.

Tomorrow, I’ll have some questions for our leaders that will help them communicate to their team members that they matter to God.

I’ve been processing what separates teams that are great from those that are just good (sounds like a book title, I know). To say you’re on a “good” team or you’ve got a “good” team sounds bland to me. It says the team is adequate. The identifier “good” in team even implies that there are better teams outperforming the team you, only moments ago, thought so highly of.  Is that your goal?

My goal is to find and be a part of some of the best teams imaginable. But whether it’s a staff team, a sports team, a team of camera operators or ushers and greeters, what separates them from just being good? What kind of goals does that team need to have to be the best at what they do? A great team doesn’t need to be number one, or even the best; they just have the intention of getting there.

I recently spoke at Woodside Bible Church in Troy, Mich.  Steve Coyner along with his tech crew from the Image Magnification team attended the sessions because they want to take over the title of “the greatest I-Mag crew on the planet.” You can imagine their surprise when I indicated that I had the incredible privilege to be the staff representative for the “greatest I-Mag team on the planet” at Granger Community Church.

This isn’t a post on the greatest I-Mag team on the planet – although I think they are – but, rather, it’s about what sets any team apart as the greatest. In some ways, it’s talent, and in others, experience and training. Becoming the greatest certainly includes the way team members are valued and encouraged as they engage in ministry. The way teammates take ownership in the team and respond to the responsibilities of being the greatest is another significant factor.

The reality is – and I may be telling you something you already know – you can and must have components of all of the above. But if you, as the leader of any team, are not casting a compelling reason for your team to engage, your team might be “good,” but it’ll never cross over to great.

Yep, it all comes down to vision. Even though you already know that, here’s my question: Are you casting a good vision (adequate) or are you casting great vision to inspire a great team? Do team members arrive fired up because they know they have the opportunity to help change lives because of their ministry?  Do they know that it’s even ministry? Do team members have the “mission from God” attitude? (That just sounds like vision)

As a leader, ask yourself this question: Are team members doing what they do out of obligation, compulsion or guilt, or do they have a passion to serve based on a compelling vision that’s been given to them?

As you communicate, add great vision to the equation and you will lead great teams.