Five essentials of managing people well!

“Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their work done.” ~ Peter Drucker

What Peter Drucker describes is obviously not good management, but poor management. What then does good management look like?

Leadership and management are different. A leader is a visionary who thinks of things that can move an organization forward. The manager’s job is to put feet on that vision and move the ball down the field. Visionary leaders and managers work together hand and glove to make good things happen.

In order to do their jobs well, managers must have in place the organizational:

  • Purpose - Why the organization exists
  • Values  - What the organization believes is important
  • Vision - Where the organization is headed  
  • Strategic initiatives - How the organization will get there

Once these four components are in place, management goes to work with the right people to create and maintain a plan and process to bring those strategic initiatives into reality and to make sure they continue to happen with excellence and in a timely manner.

Here are five critical pieces to good management of people:

1.  A Job Description

In light of the Purpose, values, vision and strategic initiatives the group, church or organization has, what is the specific job you are asking a person to fill? This needs to have great specificity so there is no doubt what they are being paid to do, or asked to do if they are a volunteer.

2.  Authority

What authority does this job or position have to go with it?  There needs to be authority to make decisions; authority to spend money; authority to bring others onto the team. If this is not clear, bad decision can happen, or no decisions will happen. Where do the lines of authority lie? Who has authority to do what and what needs to be deferred to someone else?

3.  Expectations

What does success look like for this job/role/responsibility? If the person does what he or she is being asked to do, how is success in getting certain results being determined, and is it clear to the person filling the role?

4.  Accountability

Who is to hold this person accountable for fulfilling this role? What goal(s) is the person being asked to set in light of this role and how will they be held accountable for achieving these agreed-upon goals?

5.  Follow up

How will this person be followed up with to make sure the expectations are being met and the goals being reached?  There needs to be regular sit-downs to go over what has been determined from the outset. When affirmation is earned for work well done, that affirmation needs to be expressed in encouraging ways. When the person in the role is not doing well, that needs to be communicated and dealt with. In my experience far too many people are left alone and not spoken with until a crises occurs. Once a year sit-downs are insufficient. Evaluation needs to be regularly happening so the person knows how they are doing and where they stand.

As Jim Collins says, "Get the right people on the bus and in the right seats." This is part of the hiring and vetting process. Once these people have been given a role, job, assignment, the five things above need to take place across the board and consistently.





A lost art in Christian leadership today!

For too many leaders are afraid to confront when necessary. Some would rather leave a church or organization rather than have that difficult conversation that needs to take place. Here is Eric Geiger with some excellent thoughts on “Confrontation” which very well might be the lost art in Christian leadership today.

Originally posted by Eric Geiger

For almost fifteen years, you have likely been exposed to “If you see something, say something” messaging. An ad agency developed the messaging shortly after the horrific terrorism and tragedies of September 11, 2001. While some federal agencies rejected the campaign, the NYC Transportation Authority adopted it to encourage residents and tourists to report any suspicious behavior. As reports of suspicious behavior increased and as others started using the phrase.

The “If you see something, say something” message was clear, concise, and catalytic in causing people to be more alert and report suspicious behavior. After all, the stakes were and are too high not to “say something if you see something.” The safety of people is way too important to shrug off saying something, to delay addressing an issue. The same must be true in community that is Christian.

We need confrontation.

In Christian community, we live and labor alongside broken and struggling brothers and sisters. We ourselves, no matter how long we have walked with the Lord, are broken and struggling with our own issues. All of us are prone to wander and fall, so we need people around us who “if they see something, say something,” who care when something in our lives is left “unattended.” We need people around us who are loving enough to confront us when our hearts are unattended by His truth, when our marriages are unattended by our affections, when our relationships are unattended by forgiveness, and when our decisions are unattended by His agenda.

We need to confront.

If sin goes un-confronted, the community can self-destruct because the community loses the commitment to the values and beliefs that make her distinct. If you are in Christian community and you see something in a brother or sister’s life, if you see hearts unattended by His grace and truth, say something to the person. After all, what good is community if it fails to confront? But as we confront, we must confront in the following four ways:

1.  Restoratively (Proverbs 27:6)

Confrontation within the confines of a trusting relationship is much more likely to be received. When we know someone loves us and wants the best for us, we are much more likely to hear and respond to the confrontation. The goal of confrontation must be restoration, not merely unleashing frustration.

2.  Privately (Matthew 18:15)

No one wants to be embarrassed, and confronting privately gives the best opportunity for a restorative conversation. It is a blemish on community when people talk about people rather than to people. Just as you want people to come to you, treat others with the same love and respect you desire.

3.  Quickly (Ephesians 4:27)

Quickly confronting builds trust because people learn you keep a short account and move on. Quickly confronting prevents seeds of bitterness from growing and destroying relationships.

4.  Gently (Galatians 6:1)

The best confrontations result in people knowing they are loved, knowing that the best is desired for them, and knowing that the relationship can be stronger moving forward. That kind of confrontation does not happen without a gentle spirit.

Throw yourself into a community where if people see your life or heart unattended, they will say something. And by God’s grace, offer the same gift to others.





Sincere Vs. Spectacular

"Are we trying to pat ourselves on the back? No, we are giving you a reason to be proud of us, so you can answer those who brag about having a spectacular ministry rather than having a sincere heart before God." -2 Corinthians 5:12, NLT

Jesus, Wow! Having a sincere heart as opposed to having a spectacular ministry.

It's nice to be fruitful and see You do awesome things, but not at the expense of being sincere (without wax) before You. It really comes down to being all about You…me being all about You…everything being all about You. 

I am okay with the ministry You are accomplishing through me to look like whatever You want it to look like and not trying to impress others or prove anything. Oh, the harm done by trying to look important, be important, feel important!

Jesus, Help me to be biblically content with: Who I am, where I am, what I’m doing and what You choose to do, and to make sure You get all the praise for what happens.

I have written previously about the word sincere, Simplicity and Sincerity, so you can check that out.

My simple observation after 48 years of vocational ministry with 15 different churches is that there is too much spectacular ministry (at least trying to be spectacular) and too little sincere heart behind it.

I fear that Christianity in the U.S is becoming a celebrity-seeking culture where we bow before the writings, teaching and books of well-known, famous and perceived successful Christian pastors and are invited to visit their churches so we can learn how they did it and replicate it in our own context!

May I humbly suggest a sincere heart that leads to a Spirit empowered ministry (not spectacular to impress people, but Spirit-empowered to honor Him) that is all about Jesus and not the leader? Nothing is more dangerous to the body of Christ than leaders who want to feel important, look important and be important at the expense of sincerity, integrity and humility!

As long as you grab for what makes you feel good or makes you look important, are you really much different than a babe at the breast, content only when everything’s going your way?"-1 Corinthians 3:3, The Message


Only four types of pastors will excel at vision. Are you one of them?

Every Christian leader wants to excel and succeed in ways that honor the Lord and advance kingdom purposes. Having a clear and compelling vision is an essential part of that success. Will Mancini believes that only four types of pastors excel at vision.

 Are you one of them?

Originally posted by Will Mancini

Only 4 Types of Pastors Excel at Vision – Are You One of Them?

I was having a conversation with Bryan Rose on the Auxano team recently. We broached the topic of “pastors who get it.” That is, we discussed the kinds of pastors who really press through the vision process to gain great clarity. These pastors lead with humility and tenacity. These pastors build great churches. These pastors see the kingdom grow right in front of their eyes. These are the true visionaries.

We believe these leaders fit almost perfectly into one of four categories or four types of pastors.

These are four types of pastors that are willing to learn, discern and do the hard work of visionary leadership. Another way to say it is that these pastors are leading today what will be the great churches ten and twenty years from now.


#1 – The relevant rookie pastor: “I don’t know what I don’t know”

These pastors are sharp younger leaders (20s and 30s) who are in tune with their personal calling and dialed in to the prevailing issues of popular culture. They are probably in a new role that brings new responsibility; or they may be launching out on their own as a church planter. They are naturally hungry to learn. They are culture savvy and they are connected to the people they are leading. 

They understand that they don’t know everything about organizational leadership. They are humble enough to invite a coach to the table. But their humility does not dilute their tenacity. They are the new breed of visionaries. They are tired of the old scorecards and will do whatever it takes to communicate the substance of the culture and vision of the church. 

Client profile: Jason Webb at ElmBrook Church recently completed a 9-month vision framing process.  “Rookie” doesn’t reflect Jason’s stellar church planting track record. But as a 30-something leader walking into a 5,000 plus attendance church, others might assign that adjective. (Especially when following in the footsteps of Stuart Briscoe and Mel Lawrenz, two former senior pastors.) Jason did an amazing job stewarding a vision process with a highly tenured team. They are 8 months into their vision roll-out. The completely new sense of team is felt and focus on the future is extraordinarily clear. Their passion is to help spiritually adrift people become rooted and released in Jesus Christ.

#2 – The legacy minded pastor: “I want to leave something valuable”

On the opposite end of the “rookie” spectrum is the legacy minded pastor. These pastors have likely led for decades in the same church. They have a lifetime of trust building and faithful service creating solid and influential ministries.

But they know that times are changing. They are now aware of the generational pattern of failed successions of senior pastors.  They are not quite ready to pass the baton or even make any long-term succession announcements, but they want to start putting the house in order. They are probably 3-7 years away from leaving their position.  They want to be more relevant. They want to re-clarify what their church can do best and re-align ministries to strengthen impact. They are tired of just doing more and want to prune ineffective ministries. They want to leave a strong and self-aware church to their eventual successor.

Client Profile: Pastor Clint has been leading his church for 25 years. At age 62, he feels that he has at least five more years left. He has built one of the best megachurches in North America. The church is getting older than people want to admit. Even though younger leaders are present, they are not present with serious responsibility yet. Pastor Clint has raised the money to do a 12-month vision process and it has reinvigorated his life and ministry like nothing before. As each month brings increasingly clarity, he is leading better, allowing others to lead better and is gaining confidence toward the long-range future.

#3 – The newly stuck pastor: “I have barrier that I now realize is not going away and I am not exactly sure how to fix it.”

The newly stuck pastor has a very simple story. You keep growing until you don’t. After five or 10 years of year-over-year growth, the church just stops growing. Giving is not going up; or at least not as much. By the way, you know you are in this place when you push really hard to “feel like you are growing” even though, deep inside, you know you are not. For example, attendance may be flat, but you put your hope in the fact that the church had slightly more attendance at Easter. Or you keep focusing on a few months where giving is slightly higher. You take momentary relief in the trend that your most faithful members attend church less. 

To make matters worse, if you look around the church, everything is going fine. All cylinders are hitting. Buildings are great, staff is relatively healthy. It’s hard to know why the growth is not just happening any longer.

The truth is that the organization is perfectly designed to get the results that it’s getting. Something about the structure, the culture, or the complexity of the church is holding it back. But because all of the successful years, the answer is not obvious or automatic. Finally something happens: you realize you need some perspective from the outside. You’ll do whatever it takes to break that glass ceiling.

Client Profile: Pastor Dan is 55 and has been leading a church for 10 years. Five years ago the attendance plateaued at around 1,600 in weekend services. He has kept hoping for the best and has become increasing bothered by their lack of growth. In fact, they built seating capacity to handle double their current attendance.  Every Sunday, Dan feels the pain of the empty seats   On Sabbatical two summers ago, he read Church Unique and began to think about both his vision and his organization dynamics. Recently he finished a 12-month vision framing process. He is more excited than ever to be in ministry. He is seeing people excited as he creates and models a culture of mission. He is leading with vision like never before. Attendance is already on the rise and giving has dramatically picked up.

#4 – The rapid growth pastor: “I don’t want to grow bigger, unless bigger is better.”

There are two types of rapid-growth pastors: those who fixate on attendance only and those with a passion for disciple-making in a growing church context. I work primarily with the latter and that is the profile I am now describing. These pastors understand that all growth is not good growth. They understand that growth out of alignment in the human body is called cancer. What then, do you call growth in the body of Christ that is out of alignment with the DNA of Jesus?

The rapid growth pastor sees a growing attendance as a critical stewardship. It’s a starting point not an end point. Are there clear next steps not just to “get involved but” to really grow as disciple-making disciples? Is leadership development and people development taking place? Is growing attendance happening under the banner of a vivid sense of the church’s impact for the next 5-10 years? Are we sending as well as we are attracting? Are we managing our culture or letting the growth manage us? 

Client Profile: David Saathoff leads City Church in San Antonio. Dave has engaged the Vision Framing process several times since he launched the church 20 years ago. He continually manages clarity in the complexity of growth and the messiness of reaching people far from God. He has literally reached thousands with the passion to become catalysts of spiritual and social change in the city. He has one of my favorite mission measures which codifies the practices of “how we live” across a large church community. Even if new people are added at a fast rate, the expectation of disciple-making is delivered at concurrent speed. How do they articulate it? How we live: We listen to God, be the church, share a meal, downsize to maximize, peel the onion, keep our passport current and lean towards green.

These are the four types of pastors that excel at vision. Which one are you?




Is your church preaching half of the gospel?

Bonhoeffer had it right!

Are we preaching half of the gospel in many of our churches…a gospel of cheap grace?

“Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.” D. Bonhoeffer (underlining mine).

At my church we often say: “God initiates and we respond.” I don’t believe we’ll see long-lasting spiritual formation in people if we only preach what God has done in initiating while neglecting what he has asked us to do in responding. As Luther taught, we need both Law and Gospel!

It’s simply and clearly stated in John 3:16, that God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.

God Initiates: He loved and he gave

We respond: We believe

We see the same truth in John 14:21, “He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me and he who loves me shall be loved by my father and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”

God initiates: He gave us his commands (his desires for us)

We respond: We obey

Years ago I learned a song which captures this:

“Yes, Lord, yes to your will and to your way. I’ll say yes, Lord, yes I will trust you and obey. When your Spirit speaks to me, with my whole heart I’ll agree and my answer will be yes, Lord, yes!”

One of the reasons the Lord is not real to lots of believers is because there is no responsive obedience to what has been initiated by God.

Often believers respond with: “I’ll think about it.”  Or, “If I feel up to it.” Or, “If I’m in the right mood I may do it.”  Or, “I’m too tired.”

Lorne Sanny, former president of The Navigators said on more than one occasion: “Most of the work in the world is done by people who are tired and don’t feel well.”

Simply saying yes in responding to what God is initiating is the key to spiritual maturity and fruitfulness.

Lots of sermons and worship music today in many of our evangelical Bible-believing churches camp on what God has done without including any mention of grace-empowered  “…responsive obedience.” Phil 2:12, The Message.

This is resulting in passive, immature and anemic Christians who are not taking appropriate responsibility for their spiritual growth. Spiritual maturity which honors God will not happen in a church culture where half the gospel is preached. Indicatives (what God has done) and imperatives (what we will do in response) must go hand in hand.

If simply preaching the good news of what Jesus has done would automatically produce maturity in those listening, why is it so blatantly obvious that our churches are filled with a large percentage of “so called believers” who don’t give, don’t serve, are not in community, don’t prioritize spending time alone with God and are not on mission with the gospel.  What’s missing is the other half of the gospel: spirit-led and spirit-empowered obedience, to the glory of God.

Jesus preached the whole gospel (Luke 14).  In Matthew 28 he said all power was his and then commanded us to make disciples and teach them to observe (obey) everything he had taught. People need to be taught how to obey. They don’t automatically always know how to connect the dots.

Paul preached the whole gospel in his letters to the churches. Let’s follow their example by preaching, teaching, worshipping and living the whole gospel--not just half of it!  God initiates and he desires and expects us to respond in spirit-led and spirit-empowered obedience. Do I hear an “Amen?”