Leading Happy

Where Leadership and Happiness Collide

Category: Leadership (page 1 of 18)

What is Keeping Your Church from a Robust Social Media Presence?

 

Churches in the not-so-distant past were known as the social centers of a town. Cities during the Feudal France era had churches built in the middle of the city so all people were equidistant from the house of God. Many years later, even colonial towns in the new America had this setup at times. Further, Steeples were placed on churches so that all a city dweller had to do was look up and the highest point in the town would be the church steeple.

Churches were the heart of the social gatherings of the past.

Then a resurgence happened in the 1960’s as churches began building more community space alongside their sanctuaries. Churches were growing and soon a new form of the church would emerge – the megachurch. The church became one of many growing “third space” locations for people to gather – fellowship, build lasting relationships, debate, read, and entertain. Things looked up again as the church was again the center of many people’s social life.

Nevertheless, a bit over a decade ago, even the megachurch with her amazing lobbies, coffee shops, and third spaces couldn’t hold the attention of younger generations (and especially older ones who were disenfranchised by the “secularization of sacred spaces”).  Something was shifting. Something competed for the attention of young and old. The internet and its’ burgeoning bouncing baby boy – social media.

Things were about to shift so rapidly, only a handful of futurists even saw it coming. To keep up with this shift, churches started broadcasting services through Livestream and On Demand technologies. They hoped to reclaim those lost to the social media, always plugged in society. Although for a time, this helped keep some connected, a church service is a monolog on a technology designed, not to even be a dialog, but to be a multi-log.*

Therefore, more and more churches are learning the delicate art of multi-level conversations on their social sites. While there are many great examples out there (Life.Church, ???, ???), many churches are lagging behind. So here are my suggestions on helping your church or non-profit take some entry level steps to joining the multi-log conversation in the social media sphere.

Suggestion 1

Your social sites are not just another place to post your program or events. 

While, yes, they are places where events, bulletin, and programs can be posted, minimizing that is best. Why? Because for a social media savvy person, they know only a monolog is happening on your site. The only dialog that might happen is if someone asks to clarify the event time, place, or some other event related question. Far from the multi-log type conversations, you should be having on your sites.

My suggestion is that only 1 out of 7 posts be some form of announcement, event, or bullet item. This ratio will help get info out that is needed to be out there, while not pushing away the ones who desire online community and have questions or want to give input on certain topics. You can also be very creative in the way you announce events or programs in social media – creating dynamic, shareable graphics, posing them as questions, or other creative ways to draw in discussions beyond the date, time, location, etc.

Suggestion 2

Your social sites are not going to be clean and tidy conversations, be prepared for the mess. 

This may be the largest fear many have towards social media conversations. Lack of control.

Lack of control.

In a church, the pastor and staff have more control of the environment, agenda, and overall atmosphere. Times are planned out in advance. Music is prepared before hand. Volunteer schedules sent out. There are layers of devices that allow control. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to be in control? Americans, now more than ever, want to have more and more control. We all do.

But social media isn’t designed for control. It’s an open-source smorgasbord of ideas, musings, hatred, love, desperation, loneliness, over-connectedness, truth seekers, and trolls.  Social media comes with both great promises and pitfalls, power and peril.

In a nut shell, messy.

Sure, you may be thinking, but we can delete posts and conversations and remove what we want when we want. We still have control.

True, but at a cost. Some conversations need to be messy and not allowing them will slowly move people away from your sites to others that will allow them to discuss. The same is true offline when people leave one church to attend another. They are seeking a place to ask and be heard, to listen and learn. To debate. To find peace. To be accountable. And so much more.

Put another way, no pastor or staff member is privy to all the conversations happening in their church altars, hallways, coffee shops, and foyers. These conversations are messy and people in your church are having them with friends and family and lost people. We simply don’t see them or hear them and so out of sight, out of mind. Online, everyone sees them.

We simply don’t see them or hear them and so out of sight, out of mind. Online, everyone sees them.

Online, everyone sees them. Everyone.

That very sentiment still scares me as I try to be open and honest online. On the web, nothing tends to disappear, and so what happens when my words at some point in my past come back to haunt me? We have seen this happen to Harvard applicants, sport’s celebrities, and progressive churches (oh, and not so progressive ones too).

As my college literature professor used to say, “All written correspondence has a boon and a bane.” Nevertheless, when he said those words, Facebook didn’t even exist. At that time, to have a debate you waited till people read your article or editorial. Then you waited some more for the response. Then you waited after sending your rebuttal.

(Just think, kids these days would go mad at the thought of a dialog that lasted weeks and months. There was no real instant gratification in the world of words back then.)

But now, you can have a thought, create a poll, or post a rant, and get immediate feedback. All a president has to do today is Tweet his thoughts (which more times than not is probably a bad idea) and a national council is called to decipher each and every word, while the battle rages on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit.

I say all of that to say this, the bane of social media may always be present at the forefront, but the boon is something so precious, it should not be dismissed outright. Courage and fortitude will be required in the highly connected society around us.

People are not flocking to the church as the center of their social world. They are flocking to Facebook, which announced last month they had 2 billion users.  So Zuckerberg says that Facebook needs to become more socially responsible with such a huge constituency. Again, I add, so does the Church.

The church used to have the prized position of people coming to see what is going on at the local church. Oh, and I know many places and churches reach hundreds of thousands of people. Plus, if you add up all small to megachurches, millions and millions are going to church and being disciples. (Only three quarters of a billion – 740,000,000 – claim to attend church at least once a month).

But the capital – C – Church is not reaching billions with her church services. Not yet anyway!

Don’t get me wrong, I believe the church should still do what it does best – host excellent worship experiences with singing together, praying together, eating together, and sharing Scripture. I pray our sacred traditions never fade.

With that said, it doesn’t excuse us to ignore the most rapidly growing mission’s field in the known world. Social media cannot be ignored. Neither should it be embraced as the catch-all-end-all.

It should be seen as the tool it is, to create multi-log conversations about God, Jesus, the church, theology, compassion works, and so much more. But for those topics, we will save for the next post.

QUESTION: What are one or two of your greatest fears of utlizing social media for your church?


*Multi-log is a term I use to try and capture the nature of social media conversations where any of someones hundreds of followers, family, and friends can join the conversation.

Dealing with Pressure in Ministry

How do you learn best?

Reading books and listening to solid podcasts are my top two.

I listen to Carey Nieuwhof’s podcast religiously. Although I subscribe to many great ones, this one seems to literally grab my attention each episode. Recently, Nieuwhof had Terry Linhart as his guest (episode 147). Linhart has written an excellent book. The Self-Aware Leader: Discovering Your Blind Spots to Reach Your Ministry Potential.  Personally, I feel challenged by my pastor and my wife to be a “kinder, gentler, David Lermy.”

So of course, I ordered the book right away. I am sure I will do a fuller book review sometime, but what I want to do here is give the three of the four actions Linhart provides in Chapter 6, Seeing Your Pressures, and add some commentary on how I am using these to help me deal with high pressure situations.

Don’t we all need help here as many situations in ministry and nonprofit work are high-pressure.

1. Own your strengths and weaknesses. 

I am learning to be okay with my weaknesses. But the message in the leadership is a bit mixed here. If you read Marcus Buckingham, he would say – Ignore your weakness and only focus on your strengths. He was reacting to the theory that leaders need to be more well rounded and 360 to achieve greatness. We all know now that is not true, thanks in part to guys like Buckingham. But has the pendulum swung too far to the other side?

Learning about what we are weak at and accepting it is vital to self-awareness.

I can recall sharing some weakness recently to a prospective employer and feeling comfortable with it. After years of ministry work and counseling, I get that I am not perfect and there are areas I thrive in and there are areas I need help and guidance. Some of our weakness are areas we can improve and others may be more lifelong. Knowing the difference can make all the difference in our leading well and leading happy.

What are some of the areas you are weak in and what can you do to either be more comfortable and accepting of that weakness or deal with it so the area becomes a new strength?

2. Developing resilience.

Thinking back, I tended to be the diplomat in most groups I interacted. I was cool and calm and wanted all to get along. Yet, when the waters of resistance became too troubled, I was also the first to flee and let the others deal with the carnage.

Slowly over the years though we all develop more and more resilience.

Linhart says it best,

“Identify two or three things you can now handle with ease that ten years ago would have crushed you. Remember how those used to short-circuit your emotions and life? Now, think about two or three current things in your life that overwhelm you. In what ways can you begin to develop your capacity and resilience regarding them?” (page 121)

Well said indeed. When looking back at my life I can recall the first real congregant fight I had in a church where I was an associate pastor. I felt I was right, and instead of being flexible and purposeful in response, I simply reacted. Wel,, reacted is a nice way to put it. I actually made a fool of myself and of this person in front of a room of about 120 people.

I recall a close mentor helping me realize as ministers we don’t always have the right to be right and relationships matter more than the emotions of the moment. So I went back to this person and made things right and to this day we are still friends. Plus, this was a lesson in resilience. Now, I respond peacefully more than react in emotional anger. We call it spiritual growth!

3. Remember who you follow.

 

Again, allow me to quote Terry Linhart,

“If we’re not careful, self-focus leads to less about Jesus and God’s power and provisions, and more about the clay of our lives.”

Most of may anxiety comes from worrying about my inadequacies of a leader. Oh, and let’s not forget how much we wish to hide those from the public we serve and the other pastors we hope to look better in front of at events.

You can never be a happy leader and live with those kind of anxieties. You have to let all of that go, or as my tribe in Pentecostal circles say, “put it under the blood.” The work of Christ in our lives and the power of the Holy Spirit moves beyond our inadequacies.

  • We are called by God.
  • We are redeemed by Jesus.
  • We are empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Remember who you follow!

If you follow man’s approval, you’re in a world of hurt, but I am sure you already feel it.  Let it all go. Set in the presence of God’s grace like Mary and stop running around “serving Jesus” as an excuse to not pause to hear the Savior teach you what grace truly means.

I will end with a personal story.

Maybe you are a bit like me. I recall a time during my graduate work, I had a great thought and preached my heart out and not one person said anything about it. I just knew people would be blown away by my knowledge and theological prowess. I was devastated and sat in my office and hid the resentment and pain I felt.

Then a few weeks later, I preached again and I was more relaxed and really shared no knew insights or knowledge. People came up and told me they loved the humor and really connected with the stories. I wanted to say, where were you all weeks ago when I shared some amazing stuff! I was in a lose-lose cycle of forgetting who I follow.

During prayer after these two situations, I found God challenging me. Whether I was sharing some deep thought or being funny and calm (my personality), I am doing his work for his glory and his approval. For real. I was literally changed in a moment. Now, from time to time, the lose-lose cyle wants to creep in, but I have the one I follow reminding me its about Him and not me, and not even those I serve.

Perhaps this is your story too?

Losing sight of who we are in Christ makes it very hard to lead happy where God has assigned you. Click To Tweet

Taking these three simple, yet hard to do, ideas and getting away from the fast-paced world of ministry today is vital for us to self-identify and provide time for self-awareness. I hope over the final parts of the summer, these ideas can go on a trip with you and help you find the peace over your weaknesses, resilience over your inadequacies, and connect you back to the one who you follow, the only one that truly matters.

Only then can you begin to lead happy.


Order a copy of Terry Linhart’s The Self-Aware Leader through my Amazon Smile link and support a charity that feeds hungry children in Southern Missouri.

Three Ways to Know Yourself Better

As fun as Dr. Seuss was to our childhood, his advice above is more needed now than ever. There is only one you. And no one can be a better you than you can. Nevertheless, knowing who we are takes time, reflection, and study. It takes us making more margin in our time – daily, monthly, and even yearly!

When we are busy, it is tough to find time to be introspective. We have little time to ask the ultimate questions about life. We tend to get a lot done. Nevertheless, we have no idea who we are. We have no idea if we are growing. We have no idea if we are living out our full purpose in God’s calling over our lives.

So here are THREE ideas to help you build more margin in your time so you can self reflect on who you are and who God desires you to be.

FIRST, EVERY DAY WORK IN 90 MINUTE SESSIONS

I was listening to a TED talk once, that led me to a book, that then found it’s way into my life pattern, but the brain works best in 90 minutes cycles. In other words, your focus and willpower is at its best for about an hour and a half. After 90 minutes, you will more than likely be able to keep working (we have all prove that true, but you are not working at your best.

You need a brain break.

The organization I currently work for rewards employees on their health so many take walks around the property multiple times a day. Not only is that healthy for our waste line and respiratory system, it is great for our brains!

So when I take my walks, I tend to spend that time, not thinking about what to do next in my work, but bigger life questions, which can only be discussed with a higher power. God and I have some great conversations on these short but vital walks.

So if you are like me and simply cannot plan out 2 hours a day to search the face of God and ponder life’s great questions, break it down throughout your day and pick one question or idea to ponder about your life each day. It may seem small and simple. Maybe even a bit insignificant. But trust me, it has added tremendous value to my life.

TWO,  EVERY MONTH FIND A FEW HOURS TO BE ALONE

I say every month, because I know for my life stage, trying to find an hour or two each week would be tough with younger daughters. But once a month is plannable and do able, even by parents with younger kiddos. If you do not have kiddos in the home anymore, even better!

In Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline, one of the 12 disciples is silence. We often find it hard to process deep and important work, because we do not understand how to unplug from the wired world we live. When Foster wrote the book, the internet wasn’t even a reality, so I find his words even more needed for an always jacked in, digital society.

The only way to find health in our souls is to find an hour or two each month to be alone, to be in silence, and to think. We will not find the answers we seek while the kids are yelling, work is calling, or while we drown out our concerns with mindless media. It may work for a season, but we all know when our soul longs for something more.

Once we find a time and place to get away (not your backyard or locking yourself in a room in the house), but a place you can find as sacred, a healthy conversation can develop in your mind and especially with your thoughts towards God, your work, your family, and your future. These truths are to vital to ignore. So time must be made for them, because they will not addressed, discussed, or answers discovered on their own.

THIRD, EVERY YEAR FIND A WEEK TO RECHARGE

Americans are getting worse and worse at using up all their time off from work.

Last year, 54% of US employees didn’t use up their vacation, which is up from 42% in 2013. Although I am not a huge stats fan, that statistic is shocking. It should give us all pause.

Although there are many reasons why – like fear of losing their job, not being supported by a supervisor, or even wanting the money back at the end of the year as extra pay – but the idea of time off is truly for our benefit. To have fun. To be refreshed. To get away. To play!

I know when I was younger, I would have added to this stat. I liked working hard and then cashing in my vacation time for an extra check at the end of the year! But after going through four major surgeries from 2012-2015, I found the value of taking time off.

Each year, we all need to find time to get away from what is normal – what is routine – and by breaking the routine find times of refreshing. This can be a family vacation, a camping trip, a guys/gals-only-getaway, road trip, or a spiritual journey. As long as it is not part of your normal routine, its a break from the pattern.

When we break patterns, our minds have a way of filling in those spaces with creativity, innovation, and new ideas. These are great times to open up to thinking about our lives and the ultimate reason we are here on earth. To ponder the questions we avoid through media and medication. To see life at 30,000 feet instead of the parking spot the plane of our mind is docked at through the rest of the year.

Feel free to ignore the advice. My desire is to help. My hope is to see your THRIVE, not simply SURVIVE in life.

Sadly, most people end up burning out from exhaustion instead of burning bright with purpose. Click To Tweet.

So I will end with an ancient prayer about the prosperity of our souls…

“Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2 (NKJV) 

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