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Published every Thursday the goal of the unSeminary podcast is to be an encouragement to Pastors and Church Leaders with practical help you can apply to your ministry right away.
Rebuilding Connection At Your Church Post-COVID with Abby Ecker
Welcome back to the unSeminary podcast. This week we’re talking with Abby Ecker, Next Steps Pastor from The Journey in Delaware. She’s with us today to talk about getting people connected and helping them take steps from just attending weekend gatherings to moving into the core of the church.
* Help people take steps, not leaps. // People have always needed to take small steps rather than leaps, and that’s even more true as we come out of the pandemic. Think about the very small steps that you can encourage your people to take to help draw them back to the community and connection we all need.* High tech, high touch, high heart. // Consider how to create high tech, high touch, and high heart experiences. One of the high touch experiences that The Journey did at the beginning of covid was to repurpose their shuttles (previously used for parking) to go around and visit people at their homes. This was a no-contact visit where two team members stood outside the home, passed out some Journey swag, and let people know that they love them and are thinking of them.* Basic reaching out. // Many churches may feel that they don’t have the labor or resources to do big mobilization efforts where they are calling every member of the church to check in, or planning huge outreach efforts. The Journey has been there and one simple thing to do is to develop a connections team to do basic outreach and follow-up to those committing their life to Jesus or visiting the church. Make calls to people who decide to get baptized, give, or volunteer. These calls aren’t necessarily about getting people to take more next steps, but rather a way to say thank you, express that you’re thinking about them, and ask how you can pray for them.* From seat to serve. // The Journey will be trialing a program called Plugged In, a hybrid customizable experience using both online and in-person elements. Short videos share the vision for the church and how to move out into serving the community. Then for another high-touch experience, people are paired with a coach where they can talk about where they want to serve. Attendees will leave this experience connected to a team and receive follow-up videos that walk through the church’s culture.* Ask the right questions. // Coaches for Plugged In are given resources to help them know which questions to ask the people they meet with. Their biggest goal is creating connections with these people through asking the right questions and getting to know them. Coaches function as a neutral connection point and will be the ones to check in after someone’s first serve experience to see how things went. * Lead with a clear why and what. // It’s of the utmost importance to lead with a clear “why” and a clear ‘what’. What is the problem you’re trying to solve? Why are you trying to do this event? Are you doing it just to make yourself feel good? When so many things are out of control, our tendency is to control the things we can control, which are often the “hows”. Go forward with a clear “why” and a clear “what” to help lead someone else to the next step.* Vision is the currency of leadership. // The “why” only matters if we can identify why it really matters to others. What does it mean to help this other group in the things they need? If you can figure out why they should care and can connect with them, you can move forward in progress.
You can learn more about The Journey at yourjourney.tv.
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Expanding the Leadership Voices at Your Table with Jeannette Cochran
Thanks for joining us for the unSeminary podcast. This week we’re chatting with Jeannette Cochran, executive pastor Seneca Creek Community Church in Maryland. Jeannette is talking with us today about what it is like being a female executive pastor in a church and how you can empower more women to engage their gifts and lead in your church.
* Lead in trust and honor. // Too many churches are dragging their feet on including women in leadership or executive roles within the church. The church can’t reach its full potential until men and women are leading together in relationships of trust and honor. Both men and women are created in the image of God. When women aren’t allowed to step into their callings and passions to serve the church, the body of Christ loses out.* Remain humble. // An essential quality in a healthy church is that the leaders remain in a humble posture of a learner. At one point in history, Christians tried to argue from scripture for slavery, but that changed because Christians were willing to continue to humble themselves, be learners, and be teachable. Leaders today should ask themselves if they are open to hearing the voices of others. That is the leadership model that Jesus has given us, that leaders will be listeners and learners.* Make a commitment. // Make a commitment to shared leadership and actually look around the table to ask if you do have diversity and the voices you need. Unearth those biases and stereotypes you might not realize are there. Commit to having hard conversations and creating safe spaces where you can be honest with each other. Be open to listening without becoming defensive.* Trust is the beginning. // Be open to women and communicate that you want to hear their feedback. Many women are socialized to be people-pleasers and minimize themselves, especially in Christian circles. Let them know that you are open to hearing their challenges and pushback and that they aren’t going to be penalized for speaking up. Women, on the other hand, need to do their homework and be willing to put themselves out there. It takes vulnerability on both sides.* Don’t be held back. // Often women leaders may not recognize that they have limiting beliefs that are holding them back. What is that internal voice we’re listening to? Whenever there is a sense of stepping out to become vulnerable or taking a risk, that voice will come at us and try to stop us. Don’t allow that voice to hold you back. Recognize that internal critic for what it is and turn it down to listen to the voice of God in us. Individual coaching can help tremendously with this issue.* Don’t view each other as a threat. // We need to have thoughtful boundaries, but not view each other as a threat. Many times, women leaders may be seen as a threat because the way things have always been done may need to change. Scripturally we should be looking at how we can view each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. Ask how you can have some thoughtful boundaries that help each other to feel safe and cared for, but not view each other as enemies or threats.* Look for the potential. // Studies have shown that many times men are promoted based on potential, but women are promoted only based on performance. So look for that potential in the women at your organization to move them up to the next level.
You can find out more about Jeannette at www.jeannettecochran.com and learn about Seneca Creek at senecacreek.org.
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5 Mindsets Church Leaders Need to Change Post-COVID
As the leader goes, so goes the organization.
It’s often been said that the mindset of a leader ultimately drives the behavior of an organization. It’s a scary thought when you consider that our internal thought life can express itself in the people that we consistently lead. I think this is a truism when it comes to leading organizations of any kind, including your local church.
Over time, churches seem to take on the personality of the leadership. As we start pivoting out of COVID-19 and the incredible impact it has had on all our churches, we need to look inside and understand the mindsets that we have picked up over the last year. We must identify which of these mindsets may negatively impact our organization going forward.
Now would be a great time for you to self-reflect and understand what you’ve been thinking and how that might be working itself out in the organization you’re in.
As a parent, I have seen how my habits, hang-ups, and hurts can come out in the life of my kids. While we see it vividly in our kids, the same is true in the organizations we lead. So here are five mindsets that you may have adopted over the last few months and need to shift or rethink as you go into full-on relaunch mode.
From Surviving to Thriving
There’s no doubt that over the last year you’ve had to make a lot of difficult decisions to ensure the survival of your organization. It first may have been to pivot to church online, if your church wasn’t already online, and no doubt you’ve encountered many tough financial decisions.
We’ve all made several decisions that have been focused on how we stay afloat as organizations.
We need to shed that thinking.
If we continue to focus on survival only, we’ll miss opportunities that God sends your way. See this link for a huge opportunity that’s approaching us as we speak.
If we’re just about survival, we’ll miss the opportunity to take new risks and push toward new horizons.
What aspects of your personality are leaning towards merely surviving rather than thriving?
From Keeping to Reaching
One of the sad realities of watching church leaders talk among themselves in this season is that it seems like so much of the conversation is about getting back to our attendance pre-COVID. This is a potentially dangerous mindset.
It is understandable and maybe even natural but make no mistake, it’s also dangerous. This is because this mindset may cause us to think that the goal of our church is to simply keep the people who were previously attending.
If we focus so much on keeping, we’ll miss the opportunity to reach new people.
Your community has changed in the last 15 months and those dynamics need to be addressed and be considered as you think about reaching new people in your community. We need to fully engage in reaching the world today and not wishing for the world of yesterday.
You’ve seen a lot of new people connect with your church online and the question you should be asking now is how to accelerate that! How do we identify what we’ve learned from our online experiences and push these lessons forward to reach even more people? Even as your church continues to gain momentum in its regathering phase, the benchmark should not be how our attendance compares to our attendance in the winter of 2020.
Season of Hope: Your Church’s Fall 2021 Growth Opportunity
The coming months hold an unprecedented opportunity to see your church impact more people than ever before.
As the country begins to shake off the shackles of COVID-19 and the ensuing economic calamity, we’re seeing new windows of opportunity. We must leverage this season for the message of Jesus.
We can echo what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:9, “a great door for effective work has opened to me.” Let’s not miss this tremendous opportunity that is just around the corner!
Fall 2021 is when your church must invite more people to be a part of your community.
The difference between leading churches and languishing churches is that leading churches motivate their people to invite their friends to church. Whether it’s in-person or online, churches that make an impact consistently find new ways to encourage their people to invite their friends to be a part of the church.
Typically, in the fall, we see growth opportunities as people reorient their lives and come up with new rhythms. It’s sort of like a “second new year”, particularly because many churches are trying to reach families and kids. The return to school drives how young families operate. This fall will be the first time that kids return to school and normal family life emerges from the haze of the pandemic that started in March 2020!
Let’s not miss this opportunity, friends, and find ways to leverage this turning point to invite more friends than we ever have before.
As I’ve watched churches in this season, I’ve noted a disturbing trend. Some churches are leveraging soft guilt with their people about how important it is for them to “return to the building.” Churches that obsess about getting people to the building will ultimately lose the bigger picture. It’s a small vision to just get people back into the buildings they were in before March 2020. Let’s cast a bigger vision and move beyond shame and motivating people to get into our boxes. I’ve heard too many churches leverage negative emotions to motivate people to return. Here are some lines that are being used:
* “We know there’s nothing like being in the room together.”* “It’s time to return.”* “Our forefathers fought for your right to attend church. You can fight the couch and join us.”* “When the doors of the church are open, believers need to darken them!”
I’ve even heard churches misquote passages like Psalm 122:1 [ref], which sets a dangerous precedent when we talk about our church buildings like the temple in the Old Testament. There’s a theological point to be made that one of the things Jesus undid on the cross was the limitation of where the spirit of God chooses to move. On the cross, Jesus declared that he can move in any place and any season. This needs to drive our mission in reaching new people, not a hyper-obsession with getting people who used to sit inside our boxes to come and sit in them again.
Let’s not miss this opportunity to encourage our people to invite their friends. As people reorient their lives, there are new opportunities for your church to invite people to be a part of your community, whether that’s online or in-person.
There are all kinds of signs that travel will be at incredible levels over the summertime. As we approach Labor Day, it will begin to wane, and people will be looking to establish new patterns in their lives. Let’s create a positive community image with our people that will encourage them to come back and be a part of the good things that are happening in our churches.
Focusing on Jesus in a Distracted World with Steve Brown
Welcome to the unSeminary podcast. Today we’re talking with Dr. Steve Brown, President of Arrow Leadership and author of the book Jesus Centered: Focusing On Jesus In A Distracted World. Steve works to help leaders find clarity, community and confidence in their work as Jesus-centered leaders. He’s talking with us today about how to lead more like Jesus by loving your people well and encouraging them right where they are.
* Pray for and love others. // Jesus loved the disciples – not only with words, but also with time, actions, and by praying for them. Do we treat the people we are supervising with the same care and encouragement? Sometimes we can see people as vehicles for getting stuff done, or as obstacles to completing tasks, instead of praying for and loving them. Steve has created a chart for each month in which he has two people from his team who he prays for every day. This schedule can get you into the rhythm of thinking about the people you lead and praying for them regularly. Connect with people at work by pausing and asking more questions. Check in with your team members to see how they are doing in their lives outside of the office.* Give encouragement. // As a senior leader, let your people know that you are thinking of and praying for them and are proud of them. Sometimes we overestimate how encouraging we really are, and underestimate how much people need encouragement. Some people like to be called out in public, other people like to receive a card, or be invited out to lunch – just begin and learn what means the most to your team members as you go.* Jesus in leadership. // Steve’s book, Jesus Centered, talks about three important conversations to have with your team as you look to Christ as your model in leadership: How can we be led more by Jesus – individually, as a team, or as a church? How can we lead more like Jesus as a team and individually? And how can we lead more to Jesus? These are critical conversations and will yield a lot of good fruit on your staff and in your church.* Safe, Stretch, and Stress. // As you prepare to help your team members grow, look at each person with three S words in mind: Safe, Stretch, and Stress. Where are your people in those categories? Is someone in a safe space and not challenged enough in their work? Lead them into the stretch zone with increased responsibilities. In the stretch zone they will need to learn to depend on God as they grow beyond what is merely safe. But if stretched too far, they can land in the stress zone and you’ll need to bring them back to a place where they are stretched but not stressed. Knowing where your people are helps you to discern the next developmental step for each team member.* Tic Tac Toe. // Another tool that helps team members find their sweet spot is to have each person draw a Tic Tac Toe board. Then have them identify nine words or phrases that represent them when they are at their best professionally. Write these words into the squares of the Tic Tac Toe board. Next have them decide whether each box is red, yellow, or green. Red is for those things that aren’t happening, yellow are things that happen sometimes, and green are things that they do regularly. Use this tool to discover what is holding your team back from their best. Are people in the right spot in your organization? What can you do to help them?* Jesus-centered development. // Arrow Leadership offers Jesus-centered programs, personal mentoring, organizational consulting and resources that develop you and your team to lead differently. The programs have different streams depending on if a leader is emerging or established, and each stream is highly personalized, highly intentional, and highly transformational. Participants will explore leadership, character, spiritual health, self-awareness, and more. And these programs also provide sa
Improving Your Working Partnership with an Executive Assistant with Jannet Morgan
Welcome to this week’s unSeminary podcast. Today we’re chatting with Jannet Morgan, the Executive Assistant (EA) to Lead Pastor, Tim Lucas, at Liquid Church in New Jersey. She’s with us today to talk about the role of the EA supporting leadership in the church and how to make the most out of that partnership.
* Be aware of the challenges. // Sometimes it’s difficult to establish a good working relationship between the executive and the executive assistant. In some cases hiring for the EA position is put on hold until budget allows for it, but by then the executive may be overwhelmed and overworked. It can be hard to find someone great to gear up quickly to support the pastor. There’s no manual for this sort of relationship and as a result executives may not know where they need the most help while EAs are trying to learn on the fly, but also struggle to discern what an executive or pastor really wants. Executives may not know how to manage their EA since they are trying to offload what they are doing.* Where to begin? // At the beginning of the exec/EA relationship it’s common not to know where to start. People wonder what should the routine and workflow look like, and how should we work together? In the corporate world, the EA is often an entry level position whereas in the church it’s a high level position. Often a pastor’s EA is privy to sensitive information as they help the pastor with various issues such as staff, church finances, contracts, and so on. Jannet recommends having conversations early about priorities, goals, communication, and expectations.* Get to know each other. // In the beginning of an EA’s employment, have a few meetings just to get to know each other and invite your EA to ask questions. If you can, try to allow for overlap between your new EA and old EA so your new hire can learn more quickly. Also, arrange for the EA to meet with other members of the team that you work closely with or who your EA will work closely with to understand roles and relationships. It’s helpful for your EA to know what your top goals are so that they have a better understanding of how they can support you well. Communication of expectations between you both should be clear. An EA needs to study the executive, understanding what he likes to do and anticipating what his needs are. Jannet often shadows the lead pastor, attending meetings with him so she can keep abreast of what’s happening on different projects and what problems are surfacing. As their partnership has grown, Jannet can now stand in the gap for the lead pastor when he’s not available and communicate with people who are coming to him for questions or approvals.* Empower and grow the assistant. // As a leader, you can approach hiring an EA in two ways: Do you want someone who is purely an assistant—doing your expense reports, calendaring, and correspondence? Or do you want to go beyond that and leverage the skillset which you hired them for, pouring into them because they are so important to your work life? Think of ways you can empower them and grow their leadership skills to be a growing leader in your own organization.* Five essential conversations. // Don’t miss the June 23rd workshop designed for executive church leaders and their assistants. This workshop will dive into five conversations that are essential for the executive and the EA to have. These include talking through priorities and goals, rules and filters, personal preferences, discussing the communication rhythm, and expectations for the EA role.
You can a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="mailto:jannet@liquidchurch.
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Add this one to your weekly listening routine. You’ll be encouraged and glad you did. Tremendous guests. Excellent insight in ministry leadership. I love the detailed show notes.
Thank you Mr. Birch for your podcast. I came across your work about a week before Covid-19 impacted the Houston area and signed up to Unseminary. I’ve been the lead pastor at The Life Church-Baytown going on 3 months, I look forward to your emails, podcast, and resources... thank you and your staff for you’re commitment, especially in these times.
Practical and Insightful
The unSeminary podcast is packed with practical and insightful content that keeps me listening. I enjoy both the interviews and the solo content from Rich. Keep up the great work!