Creating a Staff Onboarding System | Productive Pastor 84

Creating a Staff Onboarding System | Productive Pastor 84

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.

Front Matter

This episode is sponsored by the great folks at 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.

The List

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.

How I Use My Journal To Create My Future and Achieve My Goals by Benjamin P. Hardy – I’ve been all over this article several times over the last week or so. As big of a fan of notation and notebooks, it’s my jam. Plus, the author has some fantastic insights into the practice of future-casting.

Creating a Staff Onboarding System

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.

  1. The Preferred Future-what emotions would be present and how would the person interact with their work at the church?
  2. Turn emotions into task-specific actions
  3. What is the timeline we would like to work off of?
  4. 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.

Back Matter

Resources Mentioned:

HBR on Teams 

Episode 44: Why You Should Keep a Notebook 

Episode 72: The Benefit of Backwards

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Creating a Collaborative Sermon Workflow With Trello

Creating a Collaborative Sermon Workflow With Trello

Have you ever wished you had a single place to develop a sermon workflow with your team? Imagine how easy it would be to have your worship leader, other pastors, key volunteers and anyone else necessary having access to key sermon information. Not to mention, the ability to work ahead on sermons in a directed pathway.

I use to do just this!

All this week I am blogging on using Trello in ministry. This is the 2nd post in the series. Here are the other links

  1. Productive Pastor 46 | Organizing Ministry with Trello
  2. Why You Need To Build a Trello Reading List (and how to do it). 
  3. Streamlining Church Assimilation with Trello. 

First, I use Trello as a team based tool alongside another amazing piece of software. Evernote is my digital brain, and what I love is how I can link the two pieces of software together. I use Trello to work alongside everyone teaching at my church, our worship leader and our kids ministry team (they develop Sunday morning curriculum that runs alongside our main Sunday worship).

This used to be handed through a string of emails. The only problem was that led to more questions, having to go deeper in a text message and other confusion points. I am also a HUGE fan of preparing sermons and series in advance. I talk about that on this episode of Productive Pastor.

Creating Your Sermon Workflow

You know your community and churches needs better than anyone. Our workflow went through a few different versions before we settled onto something that works best.

1. Start a Board for every sermon series (or if you are lectionary-based, for each month). 
When you start the board, add your team from the menu. This here is important. Your team needs to have a Trello account before you invite them. To take full advantage of Trello, create a link from This will give you an easy way to invite and onboard team members as well as give you a month of Trello gold for each signup. Trello Gold opens up more options and abilities.

2. Create a Communication Key.
This is the sweet sauce. After several revisions and asking questions about best practices, we stumbled upon this short key to base our sermon workflow off of.

Big Idea (I tend to call these Monday Moments)
Guiding Question
Intended Response

Every one of these items is given it’s own card in the first stack on the board. This key is then used forward for every sermon in a separate card stack.

Here is a board we are currently using. Because of the flooding here in the spring of 2016, we canceled a Sunday (so it appears we are missing a week).

Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 8.07.51 AM

We have 2 of us that preach regularly at Foundry. We have frequently added others into the mix as well. No matter who is speaking, this sermon workflow is given to them and we try to move stuff into it as frequently as possible. It also streamlines sermon preparation because you get into a routine of asking specific communication focused questions.

Here is a board of an upcoming series for you to see when and how we normally work on these items.
Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 8.13.56 AM
I hope this use case is helpful. I use it for team-specific preparation, but others might love to do this on their own…even if they don’t need the communication angle. If you are looking for a way to use Trello to handle ALL of your sermon preparation, Rev. Nathan Hale has developed a great resource. You can purchase this super affordable template for Trello use right here.


Streamlining Church Assimilation with Trello

Streamlining Church Assimilation with Trello

Do you struggle with developing and managing an assimilation system for your church? is the perfect solution for church assimilation management. I believe we have to be intentional about assimilating people into the local church. Every person is worth everything. When folks visit your church, the way we reach out and connect speaks to how we believe Jesus reaches out to everyone of us. So developing an intentional strategy helps us love folks and Jesus loves us.

All this week I am blogging on using Trello in ministry. This is the 2nd post in the series. Here are all the posts and links

Productive Pastor 46 | Organizing Ministry with Trello

Why You Need To Build a Trello Reading List (and how to do it).
Streamlining Church Assimilation with Trello.
Creating a Collaborative Sermon Workflow with Trello

Streamlining Church Assimilation With Trello

First, let’s remember the strengths of Trello. I shared these in episode 46 of PP.

  • Trello is fantastic for teams
  • You can link multiple documents (from a variety of places) inside one card
  • You have the ability to drop notes in cards
  • Checklists (repeatable)
  • You can move cards to different stacks

This makes Trello the perfect place to run a team based, highly adaptable system of any sorts. When Foundry developed it’s 1st time contact system, we knew we wanted multiple people as part of it. This mean needing the ability for us all to work on the project simultaneously as well as provide instant feedback as to what has been done. Here are the steps to take to build your own church assimilation system in Trello.

This is going to take intentionality

If you don’t already have a strategy for following up with visitors, what your church’s pathway of involvement and discipleship process looks like, you are going to have to start developing one. But this is a necessary part of leading a strategically focused church.

The first step is to develop a 1st time visitor system and a 2nd time visitor system. It’s all about follow up and connection. Here is ours. This is all put into place on Sunday afternoon/Monday Morning. We’ve developed this system over the last couple of months and I think it works well.

  1. Allison enters the person/family into Trello on their own card underneath 1st time visitors. A date is added for the visit. When a card is entered, the movements below are entered as a checklist. Remember, once you create this once, you can reapply it to any card.
  2. Pastoral staff sends FB friend request
  3. Chad writes and sends hand written note
  4. Allison sends a FB message.
  5. Both of us add the person into our FB Foundry friend list. (more on that process and strategy here)
  6. Molly (another staff person) sends our Priority Mail welcome box. This is a new addition starting on Easter Sunday. I am really excited about it.
  7. The visitor is entered into our email system. We have a follow-up email series attached to this action.

This means after a 1st time visit, anyone or any family receives 4 points of contact after they visit.

Here is the top of our Trello church assimilation system. It’s just the stacks and cards are entered below here.

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 9.54.20 AM



When the person comes for a 2nd time visit, there are a few more actions attached. The first is to move the card from the 1st time column to the 2nd time column. An additional checklist is placed underneath their name then. This is what it involves.

  1. Chad texts and makes contact. I thank them, give them my number and let them know I am praying for them.
  2. Another team member sends a handwritten note to connect.

After the 1st and 2nd guests columns you see a few more columns. Since Foundry is a portable church spread out across an 80 mile grid, we view serving and leading on Sunday as part of our intentional assimilation and discipleship process. Usually folks can exist on this for 2 more weeks of attendance before we make contact with them regarding serving. By this time, they are aware of the different opportunities for leadership and serving. We send information on these opportunities in our Priority Mail box.

Here is how we manage assimilation on Trello. Do you have any suggestions, questions or ideas?


Why you need to build a Trello Reading List (and how to do it)

Why you need to build a Trello Reading List (and how to do it)

Do you read a lot? Do you struggle with keeping up with a list of books to read and books you are currently reading? Setting up a Trello reading list saves so much time.

I’m writing about using in ministry this week. Here are all the resources.

Productive Pastor 46 | Organizing Ministry with Trello

Why You Need To Build a Trello Reading List (and how to do it).
Streamlining Church Assimilation with Trello.
Creating a Collaborative Sermon Workflow with Trello

I use Trello for TONS of different pieces of information. I spent ages trying to find a visual based project management software that can be used by a shared team. While I’ve been a hardcore Evernote user for years, Trello has provided an essential link in my digital toolbox. I shared a few beginning points on Trello on episode 46 of The Productive Pastor (you can stream the episode below).

I shared some pictures of my personal Trello boards this past week and a friend asked me to share my reading list board. This is a pretty recent addition to my workflow, so it isn’t that thick yet. I’m expecting my Trello reading list to change my reading in both rhythm and retention.

I did Jon Acuff’s Empty Shelf project a few years ago and I read TONS. Part of the inspiration was the stack of books I had in anticipation of reading. I wanted to emulate that digitally with Trello. The reason I went with Trello over Evernote was the checklist function. It would also allow me to catalog the books I’ve read AND link to the Evernote database I build of reading notes. No matter if it is a Kindle book OR physical, it will work as part of my reading strategy. You can check out my larger reading (and cataloging) strategy in episode 26: How To Read For Maximum Effectiveness

Setting Up Your Trello Reading List

Basic Format

I started out with building different card stacks for the type of reading I typically do. These categories don’t need to be complex. It’s really just about a type of book for my own long-term reference. Each card-stack gets a color and I make sure the books underneath them get the corresponding color. This is for after I finish them and they go into the “Finished” card stack and I can quickly look at what I’ve read via category.

Reading Checklist

Screen Shot 2016-03-20 at 10.01.40 PM
Once I enter each book into it’s card, via an individual card, I make sure to attach my reading checklist to the card. This allows me to keep track of how many open books I have. Like many other people I am pretty bad about having 15 different books I’m reading at any given time. I’m trying to minimize the problem.

I created a checklist specifically for my reading list. With Trello, I have the ability to attach the same checklist into every single book. I have it set up like this;

[ ] Purchased

[ ] Started Reading

[ ] Finished Reading

[ ] Notes Entered

This way, I can at a glance see what I’m reading and how far along I am with each book.



Linking Evernote and Kindle

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 7.50.52 AM


Lastly, when I finish a book, I enter my notes/thoughts into a specific Evernote file. I simply then link to the shared file link exported out of Evernote into a note in the books card in Trello. I then can move the book to the “finished” stack.

If I read the book on my Kindle, I just attach the linked highlights to the Trello card (here’s how to find the link).

I hope this helps you understand a different use case for Trello.

PP46: Organizing Ministry with Trello

PP46: Organizing Ministry with Trello

Over the last 6 months I have finally found the project management tool I’ve been looking for for YEARS! Trello is perfect for ministry.

I was looking for a project management solution that could accomplish these tasks and requirements.

  • Worked well for visual thinkers
  • Free (or low cost)
  • allowed for multiple users (high degree of collaboration)
  • easy to move items around
  • crazy flexible
  • high degree of “hackability”

After doing some research (and seeing some instagram posts), I realized Trello was probably the perfect tool for mine and my teams needs.

Organizing Ministry with Trello

I am currently using Trello for many tasks. Here is a breakdown of 4 of them.

Sermon Series Preparation
Every sermon series at our church has a Trello board. We use the “copy board” feature as a template and start with a standing key of questions. Using Trello in this manner, our entire team has a map of where the sermon preparation is at, language we can use for other ministries and the different passages the preacher is choosing to use. I attach my own research note from Evernote in an individual card if someone wants to see more information.

New Member Assimilation
At Foundry, we struggled to keep track of multiple 1st, 2nd and continuing guests. We built an intentional contact system, but struggled to implement it without access to a church database. After seeing another church utilize Trello for assimilation, we built the perfect system for Foundry. It utilizes a checklist feature available in Trello (so we are constantly re-making the checklist). Because cards are moveable, when someone has attended the 2nd time…they get moved into the 2nd time column. We then are able to consistently move folks through our system and stay in great communication with them.

Master Calendar
We didn’t want to keep a gigantic (and public) master calendar. Instead, each month has a column in Trello and each even it’s own card. We are then able subscribe in iCal or Outlook to have each event inside our personal calendars.

Social Media Schedule
I used to keep a paper social calendar, but now I have s a great way to allow multiple people to work on the same schedule.

Related Trello Posts