Month: April 2019

Letters from a Pastor’s Daughter

Dear pastors, elders, deacons, and ushers,

Secretaries and choir directors, Awana leaders and Sunday School teachers,

Sinners becoming saints gathered under the banner of Christendom;

I am the girl sitting in the front pew, wearing thick leotards, a red corduroy skirt her Mum sewed, and a mushroom cut, and I’m staring out the stained glass window as my Dad preaches from the pulpit.

We look pretty good, shined up and sitting neatly with our practiced smiles beside Mum. Our family lives in a Glass House called a “manse” owned by the church, and I feel it, down to my second-hand shoes with the scuff marks on the toe.

I feel it, with every stare across the aisle and I’m the girl sitting in the front pew, homeschooled and raised on Dr. James Dobson and Scripture verses, who’s starving herself to death.

I turned anorexic at nine years old. Stopped eating because I didn’t have a voice. The manners, and an inscribed Bible; I had awards from Brownies and Guides and Scripture memorization; but I had no friends because we’d moved 10 times before I turned seven, and we were homeschooled in the days when no one else was. I had no self-esteem because I was told it was vain to want to be beautiful. I had no relationship with my father who babysat us once a month when Mum took the afternoon to shop at Salvation Army and before she left, she would have to remind him, “Now remember, they’re your kids too you know.”

So I stopped eating, because a daughter finds her greatest sense of identity in her relationship with her father. And if that doesn’t exist, she often feels she doesn’t either.

Dear church, I implore you:

  1. Encourage your leaders to put their families first.

     Be there for the leader who’s weighed down by expectations and pressure, who’s forgotten about 1 Timothy 3:5 which says, “If a man doesn’t know how to manage his own family, how can he care for God’s church?” (NIV) Help him to combat the belief that he needs to serve at the expense of his wife and children, and remind him that home is his first calling.

  2. Allow leaders some privacy.

    Respect your leaders and their need for some quiet. Don’t call after suppertime unless absolutely necessary. Don’t gossip about their families in the parking lot, and respect the ministry as a job, giving leaders time in which to rest.

  3. Give leaders permission to break.

     Rick Warren says “Your greatest ministry will likely come from your deepest pain.” Let’s allow our Christian leaders to hurt, to need, to want, to struggle. Let’s offer a soft place for when they do. God is always in the place we least expect it. He’s in the middle of nowhere. He’s in the desert with Hagar, and He sees her. He sees this female slave who’s been used and then rejected, and he knows her name. And she calls Him, “El Roi—the God who sees me.” Let’s be people who see each other.

  4. Become friends with the leader’s wife.

    She is human, just like you, and is crumbling from the pressure put on her. When my Mum discovered her own mother had committed suicide, she had no one to tell. No one to be real with. Befriend your leader’s wife before she breaks for the loneliness.

  5. Provide a support system for your leader’s kids.

     It is not easy being taught about God every Sunday but not given a chance to need him the rest of the days of the week. Jesus did not come to save the saints, but the sinners. Give your leader’s kids mentors, who can make the journey a little easier, allowing the kids to question, to doubt, to express, without judgment. Give them permission to be sinners, so they might discover a need for the Savior.

It’s been more than a decade since I ran away from home and I’m finding it again, in the Church. I love her, with all of her idiosyncrasies. But it wasn’t until my father needed his kids and his congregation to come alongside him to care for my Mum that I realized—the pastor was human too. And the congregation realized it, and we became like a family, leaning on each other.

This, the most beautiful kind of worship: when God’s people come together as one and do communion.

Bread is not eaten whole, friends. It is broken, so we might feed off of it.

In the same way, we need to be broken, so in turn, souls might be filled.

All my heart,

 –A repentant and forgiving PK.

Article written for Catalyst Leader by Emily T. Wierenga. Emily is an award-winning journalist, blogger, commissioned artist and columnist, founder of the non-profit, The Lulu Tree. She lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband and two sons. For more info, please visit www.emilywierenga.com

Half-Hearted Builders

While the architects were planning and the builders were building, I’m sure neighbors wondered a few things.

How did they know the bridge would stand? Who would be the first car to drive over hoping not to fall into the river? Why did they choose to make the pass there and not 10 feet over? Why arches instead of squared-off angles?

But the builders could trust in the plans – in the carefully thought out blueprints that were researched, rewritten, and finalized by the architect before a seal of approval was stamped in the lower right-hand corner.

Builders keep their heads down and they build. They keep their eyes on the plans and their minds focused on the task. The first task and then the next.

Because usually, you just can’t see the whole thing.

You might see today or a baby step or a choice… .but until you start to chip away, you’ll never see the final product.

And I want to see the final product.

Sitting here mostly wondering who drove over the bridge first. I’m self-assessing if I’m being a builder – for my family, within my business, in my calling, during my day-to-day, through my relationships. Sometimes it’s a yes, sometimes it’s a no.

Because the choices are to build, to leave it alone and watch decay set in, or to demolish… .and that doesn’t leave much room for distracted, apathetic, or half-hearted builders.

Blog written by Ariel Kuhn. Ariel is over Business & Communications at Polaris Church. She also owns and operates Ariel Kuhn Creative Co. For more information or to get in touch with Ariel, have a look at her work here

6 Tips to Find Candidates Who Will Stay

One of my biggest hiring rules of thumb is to make sure the job candidate knows that I’m a candidate as much as he or she is a candidate. I only hire the best people, and since they are the best, they have a lot of options too. By being humble and treating the candidate as an equal, you can actually create better long-term employment relationships.

This gets to the heart of what I call “hiring for retention.” Too many business owners treat employee retention as something to do after they hire someone–things like annual bonuses and free lunches on Fridays. But retention actually starts well before the first day of work. Before any employment contracts are signed. Before any offers are made.

 

Retention starts during the recruiting process. The reason: Retention has a lot to do with ensuring cultural fit from the get-go, and not merely incentivizing happiness. Of all U.S. employees who left their jobs last year, 40 percent did so within six months of starting the position–and signs point to bad cultural fit as one of the main culprits.

Imagine if those employees and businesses had assessed one another more accurately from the start. Here are six tips to do just that.

1. Create more choice.

Greater choice gives you a better chance of finding someone with the right mix of skills, experience and personality traits. Search all the places where top people are, including your colleagues’ networks–the best source of quality candidates–as well as, your careers site, job boards, recruitment firms and mobile channels.

2. Hire for attitude, not aptitude.

Knowledge and skills are certainly important for making a long-term hire, but there’s also no discounting cultural fit. When deciding between the two, put personality first. You can train for skill. You can’t train for personality.

3. Broadcast your employer brand.

Give candidates in-depth information about your employer brand and what it’s like to work with you. Fill your culture Web page and social media with regularly updated content about life at your company. This helps candidates decide if they align with your mission and personality and whether they see themselves being happy with you for the long haul.

4. Foster high-touch relationships.

Engage with candidates through several different interactions, such as in-person interviews, lunches, dinners, email correspondences and phone conversations. Have your entire hiring team meet with candidates to gain a full understanding of whether you see a long-lasting match.

5. Let candidates know you are a candidate, too.

Hiring for retention requires you and a candidate to mutually decide to work together. During interviews, let candidates know that they are choosing you just as much as you are choosing them. Ask if they have questions and provide the information you would like to have if you were in their shoes.

6. Always be closing the best candidate.

Don’t dawdle when you’ve found the best candidate. Average time to hire is about 25 working days, according to the Dice-DFH Vacancy Duration Measure. But I’ve found that the best candidate gets snatched up within two weeks. You have to close a candidate to make the relationship happen–not the other way around. If you don’t manage this step well, you often settle for less than the best.

Hiring for retention should be part of every company’s business strategy. Long-term growth hinges on having long-lasting team members, who provide far greater productivity and value than a constantly rotating workforce.

Article written for Inc.Com by Jerome Ternynck, founder and CEO of SmartRecruiters.com

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You can get valuable tips and a ton of encouragement on our social channels. We post daily inspirational to help you get thru the day. You may be the only staff person doing what you’re doing at your church or organization, but you’re definitely not alone in your journey

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Polish Your Guest Engagement Strategy this Easter

Holidays can bring new people to your church and create opportunities for impact. Most pastors can easily name the big days that bring high attendance. But knowing about big days and planning for them are two different things.

Too often, these calendar-given gifts sneak up on pastors, resulting in last minute planning and low impact. One of the biggest days comes early this year. Easter weekend is only a few weeks away!

When big days sneak up on you, the rule of thumb is to polish what’s working instead of trying to create something new. Creating new requires time and planning, and time isn’t on your side.

The most important thing to polish to enhance your Easter weekend impact? I think it’s probably your guest engagement strategy. Gary McIntosh’s book What Every Pastor Should Know reports the responses from a number of interviews with people who visited a church for the first time. These people were asked, “What made the biggest impression? What affected your decision to return the following week?”

It wasn’t the eloquent preaching, excellent worship or a fun kids ministry. The number one response by far was the friendliness of the church. Effectively engaging new guests with friendliness requires planning and intentionality. It can’t be something we hope happens; it must be something we make happen… because it can determine if they come back.

If your church is unfriendly today, chances are you won’t be able to turn things around by Easter weekend. (Though I’d make it a high priority after!) But if your church has a guest engagement strategy in place, take this opportunity to review it with fresh eyes and polish it up.

Ideas to Polish Your Guest Engagement Strategy

  1. Invite a few “outsiders” to attend your church this weekend specifically to rate the friendliness of your church.

    Ask a few people who fit the type of person your church is trying to reach, and let them know you want them to be completely honest. Offer to buy them coffee afterwards. Let them share their feedback however they are most comfortable. 

  2. Cast vision again to the First Impressions team.

    Share the findings from Gary McIntosh’s book. Help them understand the vital importance of their roles. Help them understand how the First Impressions team engages guests. The right engagement can make a good impression on the people who wander into your church. Train your team with guidelines. For example, asking guests, “Would you like me to show you our children’s area? Would you like a cup of coffee?” can make guests feel very welcome as soon as they walk into the door. Consistency matters.

  3. Reconsider where you locate your First Impressions teams.

    Locate your guest engagement teams in the right places. While there is value in having door greeters, think deeper than the front door. Having intentional teams in the lobby, auditorium and hospitality areas can make a huge impact. 

    These teams should engage and celebrate all people—not just new people (identifying them can be a challenge in a growing church, especially on Easter). If a team member doesn’t know someone’s name, that person is the target. This will ensure both new and returning guests are engaged, feel God’s love and get a sense of community.

  4. Think more strategically about how and why you collect guest information.

    Obtaining guest information creates your second opportunity to engage guests after they leave the building. Most churches use some version of a connection card, but getting guests to fill out the card can be a challenge. Here are a few ways to polish your information gathering strategy:

    • Make sure your guest service area is highly visible, easy to access, and well-stocked.Ensure church members aren’t congregating there. New guests typically won’t fight a crowd to get to the table. Make sure you have the right information available. Easter is usually attended by families with children. Have strong communication pieces available that highlight your children’s and student ministries. Make sure volunteers at the guest service area are trained to collect the right information and explain quickly how it will be used. That leads me to the next thing…
    • Only ask for the bare minimum info and give people options for sharing their info.  Do you really need their full name, address, email and phone number? Would you give all of that information out to a church you visited for the first time? Think about what information you actually plan to do something with, and get it down to the bare minimum.Many guests will not visit the guest area. Give people options for sharing their information (connect card, Facebook, church app, etc). A new guest gift can incentivize if it’s something people will actually want.
    • Review your first time guest follow-up communication with fresh eyes.  If you’re collecting guest information, make sure your system for following up is buttoned-up. It’s tough enough to get someone to share their info. If you manage to do that and then don’t follow up well or at all, you create a negative impression.Keep communication short and purposeful. Always include a next step you suggest they take

What other strategies are working today at your church? Take a look at them with fresh eyes in the next few weeks. Polish what you can before Easter gets here.

Article written for The Unstuck Group by Chad Hunt. Chad currently serves as the executive pastor at Eagle Heights Church in Somerset, KY.