Quality Over Quantity

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If you lead volunteers of any kind, it is a universal truth that you are always in need of more volunteers. I have never met a leader who would say they have more than enough volunteers. Those open slots on your roster can become paralyzing. I’ve been there. It is easy to believe the lie that a full roster equals a successful ministry. The reverse lie is also hard to shake: the greater the open slots, the greater the failure.

Here are three reasons why your goal should be quality over quantity when it comes to recruiting leaders for your ministry.

  • Quality volunteers are contagious. The dedicated volunteers I have the privilege of serving with have recruited more people for the team than I have by a long shot. Invest in them and then watch them exponentially invest in others. In today’s church culture, I believe one volunteer asking another volunteer to join the team carries more weight than a staff member asking.
  • Quality volunteers feel like double. One solid volunteer can feel like an entire team. They are reliable and flexible (for starters) and that goes a long way when it comes to executing ministry.
  • Potential quality volunteers are easier to come by than potential quantity volunteers. Craig Groeschel says, “We don’t find great leaders, we build them.” If you have even one volunteer on your team, you have a potential quality volunteer. To simply increase in number you have to start from scratch.

The next time you feel the open-slot panic feels starting to creep up from within, talk it down by remembering quality, not quantity. Write it on a sticky note and put it on your computer. Chant it to yourself quietly (in the office, not on Sunday).

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Three Methods for Spotting First-Time Guests

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If only an app existed that discreetly spotted first-time guests.

Until the app drops, here are three methods to help you spot first-time guests.

1. Stop looking for new guests and get to know the regular attenders.

Instead of spending hours learning how to spot a first-time guest, start working harder at knowing everyone else. That way, when a guest comes, you will know they are new because you will recognize everyone else in your church. This seems like a massive endeavor, but I think it is possible for one person or a team of people to recognize all of the regular attenders. Granted, if you have thousands of attenders this may be extremely difficult. Regardless, this is still a worthy goal. Additionally, working hard at recognizing everyone is beneficial for your church’s culture.

2. Make it easy for a guest to introduce themselves to you.

Is it possible we try so hard to spot first-time guests we miss the fact they are wondering how to introduce themselves to us? If your church does not have a clearly marked environment dedicated to new guests, make sure it does by next week. Better yet, announce this environment from the stage every Sunday and have someone ready to welcome newcomers and answer their questions. Welcoming guests in your literature and on-stage without letting them know where to go or who to talk to is not so welcoming.

3Make it beneficial for a guest to introduce themselves to you.

If you want to sweeten the pot, throw in a free gift for guests in exchange for their contact information. T-shirts are like candy to adults (and a good promotion tool for you). We started doing this a little over a year ago at the church where I serve. The number of new people introducing themselves to us went from around 6 to 26 per week once we formed a new here area and offered free t-shirts. This has revolutionized our assimilation process. When the guest comes to redeem their gift, give them everything they need to learn about your church and how to take their next step. Now you have their contact information so you can follow up and they have a free gift and a clear path to start down.

Sometimes guests want to check out your church incognito. These three methods allow you to easily spot guests without scaring them away. Churches should never stop being hospitable and they should always engage with first-time guests when they are spotted. However, let guests move at their own pace in regard to them formally introducing themselves to you. When they are ready, make sure the process is easy, clear, and beneficial.

The Deception of Hype

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When I was younger, I tried to ride out my spiritual life by jumping from one hyped up moment to the next. My testimony consisted of rededicating my life to God and throwing something in a massive bonfire at camp. I gauged my intimacy with God on late-night epiphanies at fireside worship on a crisp fall night. What isn’t there to love about seeing kids making life-changing decisions? Why shouldn’t churches swoon about a big response from a message on a Sunday? They should! But the hype is rarely capitalized on and turned into productive growth. The drive home from camp is inevitable. Monday is always right after Sunday. The smell of smoke will wash out of those clothes. What happens before and after the hype is what really gauges spiritual temperature. 

I recently sat down with someone who grew significantly in the past year. I asked him if there were any massive moments that played a crucial part in his growth. He sat quietly for a second before answering no, pausing as if he answered incorrectly. He went on to tell me he cannot put his finger on any specific moments. He spoke about the small, daily choices he made. Those choices didn’t seem major in the moment, but they accumulated and resulted in major growth. I cannot think of a better answer. I apologized for asking such a stupid, deceptive question. In that moment, I realized I still fight the urge to feed off of hype. 

Hype is helpful, if not necessary! It creates moments that are easy to measure and exciting to promote. As necessary as it is, it is never enough. That historic game will be remembered because of the events that occurred in the arena, but the work behind the scenes was what made the victory possible. The after picture looks good next to the before picture, but the sacrifice, sweat, and work between those two pictures is what deserves the praise. We all know in the back of our heads this is true, but it gets drowned out in the moment.

Never stop creating hype. Scale those hyped up moments like Rocky running up the library steps.  When you get to the top, celebrate the sacrifice, work, and sweat invested to get there. Be extremely careful not to accidentally sell the lie that spiritual growth is measured by scaling one hyped up moment to the next. For a more accurate reading of spiritual health, find ways to measure progress by the small consistent investments. With technology at our fingertips, this has never been easier.  Think of the small consistent investments as the hype-scented candle. Never stop burning it to help the scent linger. If anyone can figure out how to turn “2000’s worship songs around a campfire” into a scent, name it “Praises On Fire” and send it my way!

4 Treatments For SGLBO (Small Group Leader Burnout)

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Fall means small group kick-off for most churches.  To prepare for this, I have been meeting with small group leaders. One leader opened up and said, “I want my group to be life-giving, but it has been the opposite experience for me.” Unfortunately, this confession is all-too-common. Small groups are meant the modern-day picture of the original church and should be a source of community and growth for 21st century Christians. Leaders should experience the life-giving joy just as much as their group. However, many small group leaders experience burnout.

SGLBO (small group leader burnout) is real and should not be ignored. It can happen for many reasons such as poor training and leadership development. However, SGLBO might not have glaring, easily diagnosable causes. So how do we treat this? Is there a Dr. House of small groups who can brilliantly figure out what is happening seconds before the credits roll? I wish. Instead, here are 4 treatments for SGLBO

1. Take care of yourself first. Leading a small group can be draining. That is the honest truth, but it is not the problem. When you take the time to fill your own cup first, you can pour into others by overflowing, not emptying. Don’t believe the lie that the most expendable investment to alleviate busyness is you.

2. Give things away. Since when did leading a small group also put you in charge of everything else? Give away everything it takes to make your group function, except leading. In fact, find an apprentice with whom you can build into and share leadership. Now you have invested in multiple people, including a leader who can eventually break off and lead their own group. Not only will you benefit from delegating, but you will also achieve rockstar status in your church’s eyes for organically multiplying your group.

3. Simplify. Have you ever prepared all week only to sit in a quiet circle of those who did not prepare? If your group is not in a place where they can or want to do any weekly work, don’t (even if they are asking for it). Endless studies exist where the group simply has to show up, watch, and discuss. Hooray! Discussion! Besides, the sign of a healthy group is not one who sits around and waxes theology. They are the hands and feet of Jesus, so simplify by actually doing more.

4. Stop assuming. The next time you are frustrated with a certain aspect of your group, ask yourself if you set expectations out loud. Or, did you assume since you thought it, everyone else knew?  Spoken expectations for groups are good. Expectations that only exist in your head are not fair.

The remedy for SGLBO is not a pill to swallow. Think of it as physical therapy. Everyone hates the work, but no one is ever upset they finished. Work on you. Sit your group down and have an honest, open discussion to reset the rudder. Don’t sell yourself and your group short of biblical life-giving community because you are not willing to put in the work. It is worth it! If there was a prime-time drama based on a savvy, yet salty physical therapist, the credits would roll as the patient commits to the necessary work to make progress. So, roll credits!

3 Simple Guest Services Tricks That Will Change the Atmosphere of Your Church

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What if I told you there were three tricks that a guest services team could adopt this Sunday that would completely change your church atmosphere? These are not silver bullets because those do not exist in ministry or anywhere else. These might be three smaller, bronze bullets though. These ideas will cost you nothing, take no time from your work week, and need no preparation from staff or volunteers.

1. Learn one new name a week. Whether it is the guy that has been coming for years you have never met (and now that would be awkward), or a guest you know is there for the first time, find one person per week and learn their name. Imagine the impact this could create if the entire guest services team put this into practice! If you have 25 volunteers each Sunday, that is 100 new names each month. Even with a team of 5, the numbers start to grow quickly when you do the math. This Sunday, give the challenge to your team before they start serving. Next Sunday, ask your crew for the names of the people they met last Sunday.

2. Call people by their name. Even if it is a simple “Hi _____!”. Dale Carnegie, the author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, said, “A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” Stop being a good morning robot and at least be a name robot.

3. Free up whoever has this down. Are they a greeter stuck to a door? The welcome center?  Most likely, the person that is already good at learning names and using them is thriving when they get to do so. Set that person free to simply walk around and do what he or she does best. Oh, and send someone with them to learn from the master.

I’m willing to offer a full money-back guarantee that these three small steps will make people wonder if a different church moved into the building between Sundays. Guests and attenders may not be able to put their finger on what makes it feel so different, but people will be back next week to hear their name.