I’ve also been reading and rereading HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Teams * this fall. I like it so much I want to give you a chance to win a copy of the book. I am trying Amazon’s giveaway feature, so cruise over to this link, share a tweet, and get a chance to win this book!
Three Big Mistakes
I want to have a conversation today about the way we handle our schedule and how it has the ability to move us forward or keep us sitting still.
First, we have a few prerequisites. These are three episodes of Productive Pastor I think can help make this conversation better.
Have you ever struggled to get new staff started? Has it caused you anxiety? It certainly did to me. This episode I want to share our new staff on-boarding system with you.
This episode is sponsored by the great folks at TrainedUp.church. If you are looking to build a fantastic servant culture at your church, you will need to train well. TrainedUp helps you in our busy world to make that a reality.
God Dreams by Will Mancini – I’ve been re-reading this book over the last week. It is fantastic. If you struggle with the idea of vision, want to be more visionary, are teaching on vision, or need anything to do with vision…go grab this book. It’s been rocking my world recently.
I realized this summer I needed to be super intentional about how we brought folks on our team. I wanted them to have a great experience and to thrive as staff members. I, alongside my friend Jack, sat down and pounded this system out and we’ve started using in at my church. We started with the preferred future and then worked towards enacting that preferred future. You can grab a template for this system on trello, right here.
The Preferred Future-what emotions would be present and how would the person interact with their work at the church?
Turn emotions into task-specific actions
What is the timeline we would like to work off of?
Begin building these task-specific actions into a schedule
The kicker, is you have to run the system to make it effective. Remember, strategy is our most valuable resource and it doesn’t cost us anything.
Are you listening to my daily podcasts on Anchor? It’s a fantastic new medium.
Have you checked out the Productive Pastor Community? It’s an awesome place for ministry leaders to have productivity and time management resources. It’s absolutely free and connects you on Facebook to other folks in the community.
I’m a tad bit obsessed with my whiteboard. I probably use it and fill it up around 10x a week. And that’s just my main one. I have 4 at the house. People ask me about my whiteboard problem all the time, mainly because it shows up on my instagram channel a good bit. I get asked about supplies often, so here is a DIY Whiteboard shopping list.
DIY Whiteboard Shopping List
You need a surface. I use this from Home Depot, but any big box store should have something. You want to look for a smooth surface, with absolutely no texture. Some folks choose to use a car wax on the surface, but the last few I have built haven’t really needed it.
I’ve tried TONS of whiteboard markers. The best, absolutely hands down, is the Amazon basics brand. They are thick, leave great lines and keep a good tip.
Since this is a DIY solution, you will need to get some marker fluid. Trust me. The best I have found is the Evererase Everclean fluid.
I’ve done the dance with shop towels, microfiber cloths and anything else I can find. Now, I just buy a whiteboard eraser. Any will do, these are what I typically go for.
I’m going to do a build video for my next whiteboard, but until then, I hope this shopping list helps. Leave a picture of your complete setup in the comments!
How well do you and your church do email? I think email is one of the best ways for us to communicate with people…but we need to wade through some legit bad practices first.
I’m still obsessed with Planning Center’s People app. It’s a free church database system that links into the rest of the (paid) Planning Center universe. It absolutely makes ministry significantly easier. If you aren’t using church management software, or you are looking for a better solution…you need to check out Planning Center People.
Ministry Multiplies…it doesn’t add. You need to grow alongside your congregation
It helps you build segmented data. This will come in handy later on.
It is customizable. Easily. You can totally build the perfect system with it.
Email is all about strategy. You and your church are (hopefully) already sending emails to people. I want to help you understand how those emails affect things, how our sending method affects open rates and how you can use 5 strategic emails to change your own approach.
So what’s your current email strategy?
I asked folks in the Productive Pastor Community on Facebook. Check out the responses for more information (and ideas). Below are the three strategies I see churches using the most.
You send emails from a personal account using CC or BC.
Your church uses a mail system like Mailchimp, Aweber or Constant Contact. You send weekly/monthly announcements.
You use a database that links to a mail service to build strategic email lists.
5 Email Ideas
I try to send this every week. Unless you have an untold number of volunteers, this is the one email I think should come from your personal account. I like to thank all of the folks who served this week. It is a great chance to build a little vision and let them dive deeper.
We just started this email last month. I write a medium length email to everyone who has given that month. In it, I talk about what we were able to do this month, what it means to invest in our community and how we can help folks even more. I like to give them a little bit of future information that won’t go anywhere else also.This month we are starting another email JUST to the folks who have started giving in the previous month.
In each of these emails, we urge folks to begin scheduling their giving and send them a link to do so.
I use our database to build segments for special interest areas (demographics or participation in groups). This helps us move folks along the assimilation pathway.
Intentional Guest Follow-Up.
I talked a little about this in the episode on Guest Assimilation ( Building Guest Systems | PP48). Using an email follow-up systems really helps staying in contact and informing new folks who have attended your church.
If you really get deep into follow-up systems, you can utilize email marketing strategy to resource folks before and after events. We will have an entire episode dedicated to this in the near future.
Last week, I published episode 60 of The Productive Pastor. It was all about building a sermon engagement strategy and taking your sermon past Sunday and into the next week (and time beyond). All of the content was directed at leveraging the time and power of your sermon for better engagement across your community.
One of the key pieces was the sermon preview. This is an anchor point blog post, with information about the upcoming sermon and resources to engage (links to scripture, discussion guides, etc). As part of the blog post, I shared two resources about sharing your sermon audio. I have had several questions about these two resources, so I wanted to show them side-by-side.
Series Engine is an embedded audio player designed specifically for sharing sermon audio/video in a wordpress site. It offers organization for each series, the ability to upload image files. It also will help you link your sermon audio to iTunes via RSS. I have never used Series Engine for podcasting, but it is possible.
This means you host your audio through your self-hosted wordpress website, not an outside service.
I currently do not use series engine, but it is a fantastic way to publish sermon audio. If you want to do a podcast, you can. I wouldn’t recommend it, but it is totally possible. This is what the Series Engine player looks like embedded (note. I haven’t used it in several years, so this content is dated).
Have you ever felt like you bumble through prayer or are dissatisfied with your prayer life? One of the keys to the Christian life is understanding how prayer builds a big vision of who God is.
This week we look at the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6 and find out how it helps us build a great prayer life.
Smart Podcast Player
I currently use the Smart Podcast Player for both Productive Pastor and for our church’s sermon previews. You can check those out here if you want. What I love about it is how it offers a single track option AND archived episodes in a larger player. It doesn’t offer categorization (for sermon series), but it wasn’t designed for that use case. It requires you to offer hosting at a different host (I recommend libsyn.com) and does NOT generate an RSS feed for you.
For the sake of this post, we will pretend the Productive Pastor is a sermon podcast.
The Smart Track Player
Smart Podcast Player
Both Series Engine and the Smart Podcast Player are designed for self-hosted wordpress sites and use shortcode technology. This makes using and integrating them super easy.
iTunes review and rating. Thanks for leaving such incredible feedback!
How To Have Quality Momentum With a Future Focused Calendar
So what exactly is future focus?
Future focus is the ability to pro-actively keep a schedule focused on leading your team, organization, ministry or church further toward the missional vision God has called you to.
Intentionally investigating and creating future focus is all about creating awareness that leads to action. This isn’t done outside of the context of mission and strategic vision. Over the last few months, I’ve increasingly frustrated personally with what my schedule has looked like. My realizations have come because of dissatisfaction with how I’m spending my weeks. I’m a big fan of auditing my schedule, so I decided to tweak what I was doing in order to learn what exactly has been going on (that I can control).
Paper vs. Digital
Many of us keep a digital calendar on our computer or some other device. I couldn’t live without my iPhone reminding me of what is coming up each day. But digital devices didn’t have the ability to really look back and investigate effectiveness. I wanted a paper solution (since my daily work is usually done on paper anyway) to look back on from a week long view. I pulled out my week dominator planner I funded a few years ago on kickstarter. It’s perfect. (if you want to see pictures of how I’ve been using this, make sure to subscribe to the Productive Pastor Insider. I’m doing a bigger write-up with pictures this week. It will be the only place you can grab it.)
How I Build
I decided 5 categories will keep up with the majority of my tasks.
If you want to build a future-focused calendar, make sure to give yourself 3-4 normative weeks. Nothing out of the ordinary (as much as you can help it)!
Start with your appointments
Add in blocked out time slots (I put my Monday admin block, Podcast recording, etc)
Time for goals and medium level project work.
Start building in how these regulated tasks fit into your categories.
I build my calendar with black ink. As tasks come up during the week, I change things up. Blue ink gets new appointments added in. Red ink tells me where something changed my schedule.
Make sure to subscribe to the Productive Pastor Insider. This week I’ll be sending out some more additional information about doing a future focused audit and building your calendar.
Remember to Review and Rate in iTunes. You can do it right here.
Chad Brooks is a United Methodist Pastor serving in Louisiana. Married to Meredith, he is currently starting a new church in northeast Louisiana. Host of the Productive Pastor Podcast and lover of motorcycles, Chad would love to find Bigfoot one day.