Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Here’s a Rock star that’s been around since the inception of Granger Community Church: Sheila Beeson. OK, I know what you’re thinking, “Sure, pick the senior pastor’s wife – that’s not going to hurt.” Well, get over it.

Without apology, I’ve decided to spotlight Sheila because her influence in the children’s ministry has marked the lives of thousands of children for the Kingdom. She’s placed the name of Jesus before children nearly every weekend for the past 25 years. For decades, Sheila has the led charge in the Penguin Room (5 year olds-2nd grade). Her influence on the lives of these impressionable souls is paralleled only by her influence on the leaders she’s mentored along the way.

You know you’re a rock star leader when you’ve got volunteer rock stars that willingly follow your lead. John Maxwell says, “If you think you’re leading, and you look over your shoulder and no one’s following, then you’re just taking a walk.” Shelia’s never been known to “just take a walk.”

Although this rock star post is about Sheila, she’ll divert all the attention back to her team – and she should; that’s a prerequisite for entering the category of rock star. Her influence on her team of volunteers has kept them in the “game” for 10, 15, even 25 years (and everything in between).

Sheila, like every great ministry leader, has cried and prayed with her team. She’s opened herself up to them and has earned their friendship and trust.  She’s led with dignity and humbled herself while never forgetting the children and the incredible privilege of presenting Christ to them. She’s prepared for over 1,000 weekends and then given those very weekends to live and breathe in that privilege. Want to know one of the things Sheila likes to do in the middle of the week? She loves volunteering. Serving guests and encouraging volunteers on their journey has become part of the life she’s modeled in her 25 years at GCC. Mark captured the above photo of his bride at the most recent Food Drop. Can’t think of one of those she’s missed either.

The truth is rock stars like Sheila hate all the attention. To alleviate some of the attention, I want to call out the rock stars who continue to partner with her in love and prayer as they teach children the values of the Kingdom.

For 15- to 20-plus years: Joanne Rendall, Karen Nowak, Liz Ditto, Kathy Avery, Ann Snyder and Claudia Volheim (Yeah, I know. That’s not going to hurt either).

For about a decade: Otto Taylor, Connie Kamerer, Dan Sipress, Chuck Atwell and Betty Stafford.

An amazing group led by an amazing leader. Their service has been – and continues to be – a privilege and blessing to GCC’s children’s ministry. Thank you, Sheila, and thanks to your team for setting the pace for volunteerism.

 

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You’re Invited

Posted: February 11, 2011 in Encouragement, Leadership, Team

We’re running a VolunTOUR at GCC this weekend! I’m juiced because the upfront work is done. We selected the weekend long ago to match the message content. The promotion’s been out there for weeks as well. The bonus is that there’s a supporting media that shows hundreds of volunteers in action. The printed materials are ready and the tour stations are set. Our guides and leaders are ready.

Mark Beeson will invite guests (as only Mark can do) after each service to check it out, which will successfully challenge many. I’ve made it easy: I’ve linked emails with the information, written extensively about the benefits of volunteering in a dozen posts and I’m talking about it everyday.

As great as the tour is – and as ready for the tour as we are – there’s still nothing better than an invite from a friend (It’s that shoulder tap thing). There’s no magic bullet when it comes to motivating people out of the seat they’ve grown comfortable in. There are systems up front that can be worked on and there are programs we can all utilize but nothing will replace the one-on-one conversations or the “ask.”

What if everyone asked just one friend to check out the VolunTOUR? Did you ever think of the impact that might make on our churches, on our ministries or, especially, on our people? What if each of us (as fully committed Christ followers) was determined to point at least one person we knew toward an opportunity, to look at a next step, a step that could change them forever?  You think I’m exaggerating? Nope. I’m convinced a well-functioning team can transform the life of anyone instantly and, quite possibly, during their greatest time of need.

Here’s the bottom line on this one: If we’re not willing to make the “ask” – if we decide that we’ll let someone else shoulder that end of the responsibility – then perhaps it’s time to re-examine our roles as leaders.  Are we teaching the tools without utilizing them ourselves? Are we as motivated as those who serve with us, work for us and give beyond their forty?

Commit to ask; we all have someone in mind.

 

Ever wondered what serving “outside the box” might look like? If so, just follow the lead of this man, Les Rassi. He is the model of a Volunteer Rock star that has discovered opportunities outside the walls of the church.

A retired biology teacher in the public school system, Les – along with his wife, Velma – has probably served in 25 Habitat builds locally, nationally and internationally. I would think an abundance of ministry like that would be enough to get a free dinner with President Carter.

Les might be able to squeeze that dinner in, but it couldn’t have been on a Saturday during the two years that the Monroe Circle Community Center (MC3) remodeling project was taking place. Les and a team of construction volunteers were at MC3 nearly every weekend, transforming a rundown building into a safe community environment that has become the national model for what the church can do outside of its own walls. What an amazing ministry.

How about trying to squeeze this in – since the opening of that community center, Les and Velma can be found serving the guests that walk through MC3’s doors. They’ve given up nearly every Tuesday to serve coffee and pastries and distribute food and personal care packages to those in need.

That’s enough to be called a rock star in anyone’s book, but when you add to that the fact that the couple took this same servant spirit to the lower caste villages of India (five times!), then you’re really getting outside the box.

Les’ heart for helping others has found him putting new roofs on the homes of strangers and neighbors who’ve been left with far less than anyone reading this post has gotten by with. How do you explain hearts that give as much as the ones found in this couple? It can only be ascribed as complete devotion to loving others while following the call Christ has put on their hearts to serve.

Let me tell you what else Les has been up to lately. There’s this little place being transformed called the Veterans Center. It’s on the same scale of remodeling that MC3 experienced. It’s going to be another place that offers help to those who’ve found themselves in a difficult place in life. It will take hours of labor, weekend after weekend, and Les will be there – you can count on it.

There’s more but you’re getting the picture of what this rock star looks like. The simple truth is Les and Velma would say that helping others has transformed their lives more than the difference they’ve made. And they’re right. Les and Velma: Thank you for all you’ve done to be Jesus with skin “outside the box.”

In a previous post, I pointed to a couple of GCC staff leaders who’ve outlined two of the most successful tools to build volunteer teams in the church today.  These inviting strategies, if implemented, will always be the two most effective, long-term solutions to maintaining volunteer involvement that currently exists.

I want to turn a page and speak of a corporate tool that has the capacity to engage a bunch of people all at once. Let’s assume that you’re working hard at the care and connection infrastructure that needs to be in place. Remember, without all of that in the equation, you’ll never – I repeat, never – have teams that will ultimately be considered strong.

Several years ago I was approached by a fellow staffer about an idea to invite others to explore ministry opportunities in the church. Shelly Arredondo revealed a brilliant concept that our team now calls VolunTOUR. It took me about 15 seconds to realize that this had the potential to be one of the great tools for inviting others to investigate ministry offerings. Under the leadership of Tammy Michael, we’ve placed hundreds of volunteers in ministries where they continue to serve and grow.

About once a quarter a team of four tour guides will be strategically stationed at the back of the auditorium with signage that simply reads “VolunTOUR.”  Our guests have been introduced to the tour during announcements in previous week messages or online via our web site. Guides are equipped with clipboards for everyone who takes the tour and attached, are these documents for the 25 minutes we’ll have to share with our guests. The first couple of minutes are the formalities where we share what it means to be on mission, on a team that’s making a difference.

Let the tour begin: Each guide takes their separate route through the building, stopping at four or five low traffic areas to explain multiple opportunities of interest. Our guides, equipped with a ringed “cheat guide” talk through (really fast) about 60 possible ministries within our six “big buckets.” Guests are asked to make notations on up to three possible interests. Questions can be answered and conversations had during the walk as our guests explore first-hand what opportunities are available to them.

At the end of the VolunTOUR, guests are asked to turn in one of the two sheets that have their contact information with up to three ministries they would like to be contacted about. The information is then tabulated the following Monday and dispersed to ministry department representatives who have agreed to contact our guests within 72 hours. At the time of this contact, ministry specific questions are answered and opportunities for a next-step meeting, training or paperwork (if required) are offered. That’s the short-details to follow this week.

 

After nine months in my “new” position as Director of Volunteer Involvement at GCC, I’m convinced more than ever of the effectiveness of two key teachings that have been around our church for many years. Maybe you haven’t heard of them or, possibly, you have but weren’t aware of the implications as to how they could rock your ministry.

I’m referring to the “Shoulder Tap” and the “90-Second Ask.” Before you shut down and think, “I’ve heard this teaching before,” I’m asking you to consider examining each of these with a renewed passion. They are truly the most effective ways we can invite our circle of friends into life-changing environments.

Each approach has been well documented by two of our lead pastors, Tim Stevens and Mark Waltz. I’ve included a full explanation of each in two documents that can be read here and here.  Each document is two pages long and, while I encourage you to read them both, you can continue reading here for the Reader’s Digest version.

The “Shoulder Tap” simply acknowledges the fact that our friends and acquaintances – inside or outside the church – are more likely to make a decision to cross the line and become “involved” because that invitation has come from someone they know. What our friends don’t realize is that we’re inviting them into a community that is not only about serving, but also about being part of a team. More importantly, you’re inviting them into an experience where all of the benefits described in the previous 10 posts are lived out.

“The 90-Second Ask” acknowledges three steps of simple teaching that every ministry leader and team member can apply. The first step tells us to affirm what we see in your friends – and who doesn’t want to be affirmed! The second step involves opening the door to honestly state, “Because of the way I see you (friend’s name), I think you’d be in your element volunteering in (volunteer hot spot).” The third step cements “the ask”; now you get to tell your own story on how volunteering in an area of your giftedness has made an impact on your life. We all have stories of how our life is better because of our ministry and the relationships we’ve built through them. Maybe it’s the encouragement or acknowledgement from others – the point is, share it! It brings you encouragement while encouraging others.

Again, these documents are 5 minute reads and have the potential to not only change your teams, but to make an impact on the life of someone who’s yet to realize two key elements of every team: Your friend can make a positive impact on another as they decide to give of themselves AND at the same time, begin to have people build into them the very things I pray you’ve experienced as a team member.

I remember the day that I first met this Volunteer Rock Star.  Kathy Geisel came to a gathering of about 80 people close to 10 years ago to hear about volunteer opportunities in the Arts.  It was a great night of enthusiasm and in many ways was a shift in volunteerism within the department. Kathy, although having no tech experience, had a heart to just get involved.  It was a mustard seed thing.

Because of her heart to serve, it didn’t take long for her to engage.  She hasn’t stopped or slowed down since. Kathy is a valuable member of the GCC staff, the only difference is she doesn’t get a check. That makes her just like one of thousands who serves on any of the hundreds of ministry offerings here at Granger Community Church.

What has launched her into the realm of Rock Star is her tenacity for taking on new projects, and sticking with them until she owns them. I used to concern myself with her devotion, commitment, time and energy she poured into the ministry.   Then one day she firmly told me, “Kim, this is golf for me.“  Talk about an effective use of a word picture.  I understood for the first time what it meant to be serving with in ones SHAPE.

Kathy has owned a few ministries over the years.  Currently, she leads a gifted team simply called “Words Team”.  This team assures the words to the music appear at the right time on the screen for our guests to see.  Sounds easy right-I challenge you to try it.

In addition to leading the care and connection, scheduling and all the other intricacies of that ministry, Kathy assures that all of the text for our mid week Journey Classes and First Wednesday services are ready for the operators of the classes. She runs the presentation on Wednesdays in the center of the auditorium.  I can’t begin to tell you the patience one must have to deal with the last minute changes there.  She would just liken that to hitting a great shot out of the sand.

For years, this incredible servant of God would prepare all of the Core Class presentations and lead that team of volunteers as well. More bunker shots than you can imagine and it didn’t even slow her down. Try this for patience-scheduling band and vocal members for weekends. Yep, she’s done that too.

I have no clue what devotion like this is now days, you see, I draw a check.  I’ll never stop giving thanks for Rock Stars like Kathy. As Mark Beeson would say-she’s a giant slayer.

My apologies to you who’ve been looking for a new post for the last few weeks.  I warned you when I started this thing that developing a discipline for new projects such as this could be a problem. I’m going to get better.

Affirming the Ministry

My contention is that leaders can encourage volunteers month after month, year after year, speaking into them the encouragement they deserve but fall short of their call. Leaders can consistently offer thanks for the time and energy volunteers selflessly give but, still, fall short. Leaders can effortlessly connect team members in relationships and nurturing friendships for growth and, yet, overlook a key element of leading our teams.

Affirming the value of individuals is critical but if our team members are not convinced that what they’re doing is making a difference, it will leave them less than fulfilled.

Here’s the problem: If we’re not consistently communicating the importance of the ministries we lead, it just becomes another “thing to do.” What is generally perceived as a good thing will lose impact, momentum and, eventually, importance. Efforts will fall away from the mission-critical status. The life-changing potential every opportunity to serve has the capacity to become will deflate if there is little emphasis on the difference it will make.

Do our teammates know that they’re making a difference every time they put on the tag or wear the shirt. Do our volunteers understand the ministry impact when they place the cones, plan the lesson or mix the drink (assuming you have a café-insert smiley face)? Are they convinced that when they block out the weekend, there’s a real possibility that they’ll make an immediate or future impact on an individual’s life for eternity? How’s that getting communicated? How often is ‘we’re-on-a-mission-from-God’ mentality breaking through to our volunteers? More importantly, is that impact becoming internalized by every member of our teams?

If you lead, championing others toward a great cause is a big part of your calling. Who else will keep the flame alive? We’ve all heard the metaphor that “vision leaks.” It’s the responsibility of every leader to keep the cup full. Think of it this way: Affirmation of the person is critical. Affirming the value of the ministry is “person’s” first cousin.

In real estate, there are three words for success: location, location and location. Although I’ve never bought or sold a property as a realtor, I believe in this rule enough to have moved from a couple of properties. When it comes to successful volunteer team leadership, I think there are three words at the top of the list as well: affirm, affirm and affirm. Affirmation can come in a couple of “big buckets.” Here’s the first:

I.  Affirming the Person

As leaders, it seems obvious that we need to be all about this. Often our team members come from work environments where there’s little encouragement, a lack of recognition and a shortage of real Christian community. Why would they want to give up what little free time they have left to volunteer on a team where these very same values are lacking – the environment’s the same, they just don’t get a check at the end of the day.  Yea, I know all about the fact that their “pay” comes in Heaven.  That doesn’t change a thing about how we’re to value the individuals on our teams.

Are we looking for opportunities to build into our volunteers through affirmation? Have we, as leaders, told them why we appreciate them specifically?  Have we looked them in the eyes and expressed what it is about them that is a God-given expression of their giftedness? Maybe it’s their promptness, the level of excellence they aspire to, the joy they bring to others, their attitude, they’re willingness to give, the way they bring joy to others. The ideas they bring to the ministry, the time they’ve given to our teams and even the difference they’ve made in our lives.

Have we written them and expressed our appreciation in a tangible keepsake? Is their box of encouragement letters empty? Are we teaching others by our actions to do the same?  Are we affirming them with those phone calls that exclude “asks?” How about speaking well of them to others?

Here’s an idea – how about affirming their family members? Not only does that add value to their spouse or family member, but it also brings value to the volunteer as the truth of your affirmation gets back to them.

Notice how all of these commas keep me from being “listy?” The point is that affirmation is a tool in our arsenal against burnout and loss of interest – it’s a key element for encouraging the team members God has entrusted us with until He hands out the final “pay check.”

Encouraging our volunteers can happen on a couple of different levels.  Currently, I’m sharing on the interpersonal level…you know, the one that exists in every human on the planet, that level that includes the desire to be encouraged.

In addition to just knowing their name, our volunteers feel valued and honored when they know we care.  Not too many things speak louder (other than knowing their name) than when we invest in our volunteers with time.

Time is precious. It’s what our volunteers give to ministries every time they say no to a project that’s been on the to-do list for months, or even years.  It’s the same commodity we leaders are passionate about when we watch people sit on the sidelines, unengaged, claiming to have none to give.  It would be to our advantage as Christ-following team leaders to give some of that back without expectations.

Giving time to our volunteers doesn’t happen unless it’s prioritized.  I’ve discovered it’s a two-part process. First, leaders need to realize the value they add to their volunteers’ lives when giving them their time. Secondly, no excuses; just give it!  I told you this blog was going to be slow pitch; didn’t burn that by anybody!

Look for opportunities to spend time with your volunteers.  Arrive an hour early at the next service and expect to invest in a team member’s life.  Ask questions and inquire about their families without any expectation of sharing about yourself.  Follow through with your “asks.” Talk about each individual and give your undivided attention.

Identify a member of the team who’s leading socially and challenge them to take on some responsibility for team community (that event where conversations happen without looking at watches).  See if they don’t love it, but I bet they will! Provide the setting for a team gathering and build into each person.

Making phone calls without “asks” is another place to start.  If you’re like me, the “ask” used to be one of the only reasons I would call volunteers; what a poor leadership model. I’ve repented and have vowed to make more calls as a friend than as a “scheduler.” What about taking time every week for a sit down conversation with a valued team member? Tried that lately?

Because of my line of work, the paradox of intentional interventions without expectations is something I’ll forever be working toward.

It was a distinct honor this week to share some of the values that my boss, Mark Waltz, and I are determined to place at the very core of how our staff should invest in volunteers. This might not be, as I told our staff team, “a new revelation” to anyone but more a review of principles that our Lead Team has built into the DNA of who we are as a staff. These are principles we’re determined to build into our team development.

My premise is that every successful ministry is ultimately dependant upon the strength of our volunteer teams. By strength, this is what I said:

“The strength of our ministry teams, ultimately, is dependent upon the value of the individual that we make evident to our volunteers as opposed to number of volunteers serving. If it’s perceived any other way by our volunteers, we’ll eventually be stuck within a cycle that looks like a revolving door of unsatisfied partners in ministry.”

I contended that ministry is at the heart of the Christian life. In order for our ministries to draw individuals and for our volunteers to flourish, we should esteem those individuals as valuable and provide attractive opportunities for them to move into caring communities.

The kind of attraction I’m talking about does more than just add ministry value as individuals give of their time for the cause of advancing the Kingdom. It’s an attraction where there is an irresistible draw to be part of a team that embraces the most basic of human yearnings – that which encourages, cares for, affirms value to and fosters spiritual friendships.

We believe at GCC that our staff objective is to mobilize and equip a community of ministry partners who are maximizing their gifts in a meaningful place of service. Here’s the catch though: “We can continue to equip and mobilize by the hundreds, but without intentional steps to strengthen (remember the definition) our teams will fall short of what God has called us to.”

How’s your staff doing? Are they flourishing or falling short?