Category Archives: Campus Pastor

How to Effectively Cure the Church Budgeting Blues

Church Budget Blues

Working on the Youth Ministry Budget

Fall ministry around the church staff and leadership table usually means one thing: budgeting.

No other time of year strikes more fear, and evokes more creativity, in youth ministers than budget preparation time.
Test for yourself and say the word “BUDGET” at your next staff meeting and watch the ministry energy and excitement migrate across the table like south-bound geese to your Administrative Pastor.
The Resourcing Team at Auxano knows the challenges of leading during this season, and has put together a terrific plan to redefine the grueling grind of budget preparation through an engaging, visionary budgeting retreat.
Read more about leading a visionary budgeting retreat with this Guest Post from Auxano Campaign Navigator, David Putman and Director of Campaigns, Todd McMichen. Scroll down for a step-by-step guide to planning your first budget retreat.

We all desire to do a better job when it comes to our church’s budget. How many times have we had to move funds from one line item to another creating a lack of clarity, confusion, and frustrations among our board and staff? How many times have we over-funded the wrong program while under-funding the right opportunity? Imagine for a moment a way forward with your budgeting that is clear, concise, catalytic, compelling and most of all on point. Imagine leaving a budgeting meeting as a team energized about the next ministry season instead of weighed down by spreadsheets and numbers.

One way forward is a vision-based budgeting retreat. The following is a simple step-by-step process to consider.

Prep

Reconsider your languageLanguage creates culture. This is especially true when it comes to your church’s budget. Does your language indicate scarcity or provision? A church with a generous culture chooses its language carefully. A budget becomes a spending plan or investment plan that funds your vision. Your budget retreat becomes more about how you “finance the mission” and less about how you divide up the “money pie.” Regardless of what language you use, connect it to your vision.

Turn a “have to” into a “get to.” Long before your budget is due, plan an offsite meeting for the purpose of resourcing next year’s vision. Nothing frustrates a team more when it comes to budget than to be excluded or have budget planning sprung on them at the last minute. Budgeting can be stressful enough without creating unwanted urgency with last minute planning. People are down on, what they are not up on. This includes your staff.

Do some spiritual prep. Before the offsite, consider spending some team time working through a book or some devotions on generosity. Encourage your team to begin a journal noting how God is speaking to them related to their specific area of ministry and better collaboration as a whole. You may consider using a tool like Leading A Generous Church by Todd McMichen.

Work on your vision. The question we need to answer prior to any attempt at budgeting is, “Where is God leading us?” This is the question that underpins all of your stewardship. Remember, budgeting is about resourcing your vision. An excellent resource for working on vision is God Dreams, a book written by Auxano founder Will Mancini and Warren Bird.

A potential action point is to have a God Dreams Retreat six months prior to your budget retreat.

During

Start with your vision. If you worked on vision prior to the retreat, spend some time updating the team on the previous vision work. Let the team give you feedback. You can do this around four questions: 1) What’s right? 2) What’s wrong? 3) What’s missing?  4) What’s unclear? Collect the team’s responses on a whiteboard or flipchart. You can refer back to it at another time. Don’t allow the team to get bogged down. Remember this is simply about getting vision in front of the team. If they were part of your earlier vision work, this should move fast and create synergy. If you’ve failed to do any vision work prior to your retreat, you’re not ready to work on your budget. Remind the team that the budget is about funding the vision.

Evaluate last year’s ministry effectiveness. An additional grid for resourcing the vision is evaluating your ministry effectiveness. There are three types of results that you need to evaluate as you consider how you are going to invest next year’s resources – they are input, output, and impact results.

Input results by far are the easiest to assess. Numbers don’t lie. Output and impact results can be more difficult to measure. Have your team share stories related to output and impact results. For example, an output result would include a story of life change, while an impact story may include a story of community impact. Make sure you pause long enough to celebrate your effectiveness.

Pay attention to your financial details. Wow! Up until this point this hasn’t felt or been like any other budgeting meeting, but you must drill in and pay attention to the details. This involves paying attention to your finances at the macro and micro levels. There are a number of things to consider at the macro level in order to learn more about how people give and how you might disciple them.

They include:

  • Did you meet budget?
  • Are you living under your means or over your means?
  • How many people contributed to your budget this previous year?
  • How does giving grow as an individual’s engagement in ministry grows?
  • What was the average gift?
  • How did giving break down by amounts?
  • How many people use some form of electronic giving? What were they?
  • Did you have unbudgeted expenses?
  • Do you have large capital needs on the horizon?
  • What are your cash surplus levels?
  • How is your debt to budget ratio?

Once you have a handle on the big picture, it is time to dig deeper and pay attention to your budget at the micro level or ministry level.

This includes:

  • Were there areas that were over budgeted?
  • Were there areas that were under budgeted?
  • What ministries are in growth, plateau, or decline?
  • What ministries did you see the highest and lowest return on invested dollars?
  • What ministry line items could be reduced or eliminated?
  • What ministry line items need to be increased or added?
  • What new investments do you need to make to support your one-year horizon and measurable results?

Be willing to give “up in” order to “go up.”  Give your team some time to make adjustments based on all that has taken place up to this point in the retreat. Let them work in subgroups. You will be surprised how this collaborative process will open up the willingness for team members to make sacrifices. When you include them in the process, they are more than likely willing to lead the way and the charge. Ask every team to give up something for the common good. Create a spirit of sacrifice by leading the way.

Conclude the retreat with a season of celebration and prayer. Model the way by affirming the contribution of the entire team. Celebrate the specific contribution of team members by highlighting how they have lived out the values of your church. Call the team to a season of fasting and prayer for next year’s vision.

After

Scrub the results before presenting the final budget. This next step requires time. Let the team know that the executive and finance team will pray and look at everything over the next few weeks before presenting the final budget to the entire team. Make sure you don’t over promise and under deliver. It is better to under promise and over deliver. Have a defined time when you will bring closure to the budgeting process. Informally include the entire team in the scrubbing process by soliciting feedback when needed.

We are recommending a process that is more vision based than most. Why? It keeps the process fresh and every year people know you rally around the vision. This will help diminish silos, personal entitlements, relational fears, and prevent you from just doing the same thing every year. Vision based financial leadership will also create the necessary clarity that when enacted properly will produce generosity, confidence, and surplus.

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4 Bracket-Busting Plays for Welcoming Guests this Easter

bracketbusters

It’s time for March Madness.

In the sporting world, March Madness is the NCAA Men’s Division One basketball tournament, dominating the next few weeks of speculation and conversation.

In the church world, March Madness is Easter Sunday, and every service leading up to it, dominating the next few weeks of speculation and conversation.

Many leaders will go all out to connect as many people to the Gospel of Christ on this largest guest attendance weekend of the year. Savvy church leaders are presently focusing their attention on the pathway and points of entry a guest will take to attend worship services this Easter. Spring is a natural and necessary time of year to take a look at your Guest Welcoming and Hospitality ministry, and like 64 basketball coaches right now, make adjustments to capitalize on one shining moment.

In the spirit of March Madness, here are four bracket-busting plays for welcoming Guests this Easter:

1. Tweak the Fundamentals

Nine out of ten guests this Easter will go to your website first. What will they see? More importantly what will they not see? Some estimate that last year the number of networked devices in the world DOUBLED the global population. If you are not already solid in the fundamentals with your website, then you are behind.

Some Easter-critical tweaks could be:

  • a clear and prominent “I’m New” button or page
  • Easter service times, and stylistic differences of services, if any
  • your address, directions, parking information and a map
  • a short description, with photo, or video clip of the worship experience
  • information on Children’s Ministry, including security/safety procedures

2. Remember, the Best Offense is a Good Defense 

Once a de-churched or unchurched Guest decides to attend this Easter, the enemy will use everything possible to distract and dissuade them from attending. This means that your Hospitality Team should be on point and playing defense once that family or individual reaches the campus. Two types of defense are:

Zone Defense  – Just like on the court, positioning people to cover a certain geographic area of your campus is key. This may even include having vest-wearing greeters at a key intersection or navigation point off campus, joyfully directing people toward life-change in Christ. One fundamental advantage of a Zone Defense in basketball is controlling the tempo of the game. Employing a Zone Defense in your parking lot, hallways and information tables is the best possible way to ensure the best possible the guest experience. An effective Zone Defense maps out the strategic points of connection in each area, and plants an informed, smiling face at each one.

Man-to-Man (M2M) Defense – There are times however, when a direct, one-to-one approach is necessary in the Hospitality Ministry. One huge area to play M2M is in the Children’s Ministry. This is a great opportunity to recruit additional volunteers to walk guest families to each child’s classroom, facilitating or explaining the security and sign-in procedure along the way. This simple action provides direct reassurance to each new parent that their child will be cared for, and could minimize a significant distraction to Gospel receptivity. Other M2M defensive areas could include altar calls, next step tables and guest receptions.

 3. First Make Four Passes, Then Take the Shot

What if every guest you have this Easter receives at least four genuine smiles, four warm handshakes or four verbal welcomes before they ever enter the worship environment? Everything that a new person experiences, good and bad will impact their receptivity to the message of Easter. From parking lot to pew, if your leaders are trained and positioned to deliver four smile-passes to everyone who enters, you can be sure that your worship experience and your message will find a wide-open heart, ready for the salvation-shot.

4. Crash The Boards

Specifically, on your knees. Instead of praying for a billion-dollar bracket, this could be a season of prayer and intercession on behalf of those who will attend this Easter. The Holy Spirit is already at work in the lives of those who will come, needing to be transformed by the Gospel. Lead your welcome team to pray regularly, for your guests this Easter, and every Sunday for that matter. Watch what happens as leaders catch the vision to welcome life change at a door, in a parking lot or beside an information table.

Each year, just 12 players get to cut down the tournament nets in victory. However, every leader in your church has an opportunity to celebrate the use of their gifts to see the lost be found this season.

There is no better time than now to get out on the court and press for the win.

This post first appeared on March 18, 2014 and has been updated.

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Leaders Look Forward

LookAheadNothing compares to the moment a hearty laugh with a church team immediately shifts into a deeply poignant moment of congregational insight.

For one team, this happened in the midst of a common exercise on the front end of Auxano’s Vision Framing process. A connecting exercise that begins with a simple, yet insightful question…  If our church was a car, what make and model would we be?
Of course, the only appropriate follow-up question, if the answer has not already been revealed, is “Why?”

In this instance, the Pastor began to describe an older model Station Wagon. The team then developed the rest of this polariod-era picture, complete with plastic decal “wood” paneling, a black-cloud emitting diesel engine, and stick to your bare summer legs vinyl seat covers. For every leader in the room of appropriate age, the third row back seat evoked knowing smiles of michevious childhoods. Who didn’t love that rear-facing view as a kid?

As the laughter waned, the Pastor then went on with his “Why” explanation.

“Many of our leaders would rather be more focused on where we have been. And if we were honest, many really enjoy harassing others who moving faster than us down the road ahead… There are days when I feel like very few of us are facing the same direction looking forward.”

It is not scriptural, but still accurate to say that “where there is no vision, the people cherish.”

They cherish the past, because they do not have a clear picture of the future.
They cherish where we have been, without a vision of where God leads ahead.
They cherish the comfort of the known, without hope that transcends the unknown.
They cherish the tools and resources provided to accomplish our calling, rather than the actual calling.

The magnetic attraction of a living and active vision of the future, much more than just a one-liner vision statement, becomes instantaneously clear.

Calling leaders to face forward through the windshield toward the horizons of God’s preferred future, is not easy. Getting a fast-moving team to slow-down and think long feels impossible.

After all, looking backward from the third row was pretty fun… but leaders look forward.

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15 Quotes for Church Leaders from the book Extreme Ownership

ExtremeOwnershipThirty pages in, the realization hit.

Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin is not only one of the best leadership books I have ever read, it may the only leadership book I have ever read cover to cover. Typical books on leadership, especially church leadership, leave me uninspired… at best. At worst, a few seem to me as simply a series of notions stretched thin to create chapters.

Using the U.S. Navy Seals as their frame of reference, Extreme Ownership kept me turning pages by unpacking the depth of ONE astoundingly simple truth behind any successful leadership enterprise: take responsibility. In doing so, the highly effective church leader is no longer a mythical being, existing on a higher plane than the rest of all mere mortal pastors. But with responsibility, every minister at every level of the staff structure, fulfills their duty to ensure success in leading toward the most important mission of all mankind: the Great Commission.

In this, Willink and Babin’s book is practical: Every minister, in every staff role can appreciate and live out the principles of Extreme Ownership. Additionally, actual stories from their leadership during the Battle of Ramadi in Iraq, illustrating these principles in action, keep the reader connected because testimony is the currency of transformation. Finally, a sense of gravity is felt throughout the book as effective leadership for these authors was a matter of life or death. The obvious parallel for leaders in the church, is that extreme ownership could mean eternal life or death in our theater of operations.

Here is a summary of Extreme Ownership in 3 sentences:

  1. Leadership is taking total responsibility for the effective execution of what you are called to accomplish.
  2. When you are a leader, success always belongs to the team, failure always belongs to you.
  3. A clear, simple, actionable mission that everyone believes-in is critical to the success of every team.

My Top 15 Quotes for Church Leaders from Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

  • Without a team there can be no leadership.
  • For all the definitions, descriptions, and characterizations of leaders, there are only two that matter: effective and ineffective. Effective leaders lead successful teams that accomplish their mission. Ineffective leaders do not.
  • For leaders, the humility to admit and own mistakes and develop a plan to overcome them is essential to success.
  • The best leaders are not driven by ego or personal agendas. They are simply focused on the mission and how to best accomplish it.
  • Leaders must own everything in their world. There is no one else to blame.
  • The leader bears full responsibility for explaining the strategic mission, developing the tactics, and securing the training and resources to enable the team properly and successfully execute.
  • If an individual on a team is not performing at the level required for the team to succeed, the leader must train and mentor that underperformer… But the leader must be loyal to the team and the mission above any individual.
  • When it comes to standards as a leader, it’s not what you preach, it’s what you tolerate.
  • There are no bad teams anywhere… Only bad leaders.
  • It is incumbent on senior leaders to take the time to explain and answer the questions of their junior leaders so that they too can understand why and believe.
  • Leadership isn’t one person leading a team. It is a group of leaders working together up and down the chain of command to lead.
  • A broad and ambiguous mission results in lack of focus, ineffective execution, and mission creep.
  • If your team isn’t doing what you need them to do, you first have to look at yourself. Rather than blame them for not seeing the strategic picture, you must figure out a way to better communicate it to them in terms that are simple, clear and concise, so that they understand.
  • A public display of discontent or disagreement with the chain of command undermines the authority at all levels. This is catastrophic to the performance of any organization.
  • If your leader is not giving you the support that you need, don’t blame him or her. Instead, reexamine what you can do to better clarify, educate, influence or convince that person to give you what you need in order to win.

 

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5 Sure-Fire Ways to Guarantee Repetitive Pastoral Failure

GreatFailuresIt’s not really how you got lost as much as how you lead back to the right path.
Every great leader has experienced failure at some point, well… except one glaring exception.
So yeah, you are not Jesus, but remember:
     Steve Jobs, the man behind the iPhone, iPad and MacBook (likely what you are using to read this), was once fired from Apple
     Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player ever (not even a question Kobe and Lebron), was cut from his middle-school team
     Thomas Edison, the inventor of the phonograph (making him the great-grandfather of hipster music), was partially deaf
It is not a question of IF a pastor will fail in some ministry endeavor; it is a question of how they will lead as they learn their way back up. 

Some failures in pastoral leadership require a deeper investment in time, repentance and healing to overcome. Especially those failures that erode pastoral authority because of immorality or sexual sin. However, for the majority of pastors, recovery from everyday ministry failure is a matter of learnership as much as it is one of leadership. 
Because moving beyond a failure involves learning and advancing as a leader, after all:
Steve Jobs went on to build the NeXT computer with no real customers.
Michael Jordan went on to miss 12,345 shots in his career, more than half of all he took.
Thomas Edison went on to build 1,000 light bulbs that didn’t work before one finally did.

Failure happens to everyone and for those that refuse to learn and advance, it often happens over and over again. Here are five sure-fire ways to guarantee repetitive pastoral failure:

1. Ignore It – Leaders destined to fail again refuse to acknowledge failure when it happens. When the conversation turns toward what went wrong, they become defensive or change the subject altogether.
 Advancing leaders talk about their failure openly and freely share what they are learning from it.

2. Prevent It – Do everything you can to never allow failure to happen in the first place and you can be sure that when it does happen, you will never see it coming. If you never allow your leaders to fail, there is actually a better chance that they will never succeed.
 Advancing leaders create an environment for safe failure to happen and even celebrate failing forward when it happens.

3. Invite It – It is surprising how many pastors fail to ever plan, and inadvertently plan to often fail. Simple principles of leadership like calendaring, setting meeting agendas or leading toward a consistent vision are a great step toward making sure failure, when it happens, is not repetitive.
Advancing leaders are intentional in their planning, especially if it is not in their nature to begin with.

4. Overlook It –  Making excuses for failure, sweeping mistakes under the rug or simply minimizing the reality of the situation is a great way to find yourself with the broom again soon. A great strategy to repeat failure is to not get outside eyes to help reveal critical points of failure and create a plan to move forward.
 Advancing leaders invite strategic outsiders in to help see what was unseen and bring fresh perspective toward moving forward.

5. Magnify It – Publicly dwelling on your mistakes and failure seems, at first to be humbling and sacrificial. Under the surface though, giving undue and inordinate attention to ministry failure often masks insecurity and fuels ego. Over-magnifying a mistake happens in cultures where failure is easier to recognize than success.
 Advancing leaders define success of their Great Commission calling and celebrate those wins first, while appropriately handling the misses.

You may not go on to revolutionize the digital age, become the greatest basketball player of all time, or hold more than 2,000 U.S. patents, but God does have something significant and eternal for you to accomplish… no matter how hard it might have been up to this point.

How you learn from failure will directly affect how you lead after failure.

Failure happens in ministry, there is no guarantee against it. Therefore, when failure does occur, we must learn and lead from it, advancing to ensure that it does not happen the same way again.

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The 20 Unavoidable Requirements of Vision Breakthrough

As leaders, we are naturally beginning this New Year praying for breakthrough in one or more areas…
In our family.
In our health.
In our relationships.
In our congregation.
And especially in God’s vision for our church.

But vision breakthrough requires change.

And in just a few short weeks, the warm, hopeful desire for vision breakthrough will stand toe-to-toe with the cold, hard reality of the sacrifice demanded to achieve change. Only what we are truly committed-to, and convicted-of, will remain standing.

For most of us, spending another year talking about what should be different will be as effective in this year as it was in the last.

There is profit in all hard work, but endless talk leads only to poverty. Proverbs 14:23

It might seem obvious, but healthy change and Biblical growth will not “just happen” without work.

Lasting breakthrough in your church consists of at least 20 unavoidable requirements, because in the end…

…vision takes Effort – As followers of Christ, we have no model nor Biblical map for the path of least resistance.

…vision takes Money – Extending the life of a dying church costs very little, revitalizing hope for the future takes thoughtful & intentional investment.

…vision takes Time – God has gifted us with a mind to dream about “what if,” and the time to be about “what next.”

…vision takes Risk – The riverbanks are safer than the rapids, but the full beauty of the river cannot merely be observed, it must be experienced.

…vision takes Courage – Courage is not the absence of fear, it is the presence of fear and then moving forward in faith anyway.

…vision takes Recklessness – Following a Savior who gave His life will likely involve moments of leadership in which we risk ours.

…vision takes Fear – An honest appraisal of the stakes involved in pastoring a church should strike fear in the heart of any experienced leader.

…vision takes Control – A pastoral calling in the local church requires active leadership engagement, not passive membership observation.

…vision takes Prayer – Depending on prayer for breakthrough, means setting aside enough time for a season, not just enough to start a meeting.

…vision takes Truth – Understanding the current state of the church is the only start, if effectiveness and health are truly the destination.

…vision takes Reality – Communication of “what could be” apart from “what is” creates a precarious gap. Excessive aspiration breeds active cynicism.

…vision takes Collaboration – Successful leadership is not measured by what you get accomplished, but by what gets accomplished without you.

…vision takes Help – Every leader naturally thinks they can “do it themselves” when it comes to vision – if you could have, you would have by now.

…vision takes Commitment – It’s much easier to start something new than to revitalize something in existence. New isn’t always better, ask Coke.

…vision takes Humility – Owning and understanding what we presently do not know catapults the process of understanding and owning God’s preferred future.

…vision takes Understanding -Lasting leadership impact does not happen because you developed great solutions, but because you asked great questions.

…vision takes Perspective – The longer you are a part of a system or organization, the harder it becomes for you to see things as they actually are.

…vision takes Immediacy – There are as many reasons to start tomorrow as there are wishes we had started yesterday. Today is all we have.

…vision takes Patience – You cannot microwave vision, it is as healthy & nutritious for the church body as a microwave burrito is for your physical body.

…vision takes Jesus – If the Gospel of Christ is not the primary catalyst and the singular focus of our effort, let’s change the name and charge membership fees.

As we lean in to 2016 together, visionary breakthrough will demand much, but reward much more. Will Mancini’s new book God Dreams is a great place to begin. Here is a recent post from Will on the importance of breakthrough church vision.

If you are ready to start a breakthrough vision conversation with an Auxano team member, or learn more about scheduling a 2-Day Vision Retreat this year, let us know here.

In the meantime… get to work.

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The Official 2016 Church Vision Generator

It’s that time of year again.

Time to resolve and time to budget. Time to exercise and to excise. Time to engage, and especially, a time to envision.

It is this time every year, that leaders across the Church landscape will dream, plan and inspire toward God’s preferred future. A few will dig in and collaborate with their teams to develop a viral language of vision. Others will read a book that explains and guides them to craft vision, like Will Mancini’s upcoming release God Dreams.*

But unfortunately, many well-intentioned church leaders will simply imitate successful statements from other congregations. Or even worse, they will piece random visionish-type words together that sound catalytic… yet remain catatonic.

For those in the later category looking for a bit of help, once again this year, with tongue firmly-in-cheek…

Here is your Official 2016 Church Vision Generator:

Vision Generator 16

Click to Enlarge

*God Dreams, is the anticipated follow-up to Will’s first book on crafting vibrant vision: Church Unique. God Dreams releases January 1, from Amazon and other retailers. Download a preview PDF of Chapter 1 here

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