If a genie gave you the ability to work 20% faster, could you finally get your business to the next level? If those difficult tasks you had could be resolved with the click of one Staples EASY button, could you finally get your inbox to zero or your to-do list complete? If you could execute tasks quicker and more efficiently could you make the big moves that you have been dreaming about?
The myth about productivity is that if we had more time or if we could work quicker, we could accomplish everything we need to. But what if efficiency is not the most important factor for our productivity?
Consider if I went to go see the Celtics-Lakers game in Boston. It doesn’t matter how fast I drive or how quickly I got to Boston Garden, if the game was actually played in Los Angeles. A quick pace is only as helpful as a clear direction. In our work week, we have to know what our goals are and what responsibilities will contribute the most to accomplishing those goals. This is why productivity is about priority, not pace.
In previous posts, I wrote about what empowerment is and why it is so important in leadership. Even with this clarity, there are barriers that prevent our conviction from being implemented in our ministry/organization. Below are seven barriers that prevent leaders from empowering others to help with projects, programs, processes, and people. Over my decade of ministry, I have allowed each one of these barriers to prevent me from empowering others, thus robbing them of the opportunity to use their gifts and leaving me exhausted.
Empowerment is currently a buzz-word in many church circles. Church leaders know that it’s important, but they don’t know what it is and how to do it. Nonetheless, often the church leader enthusiastically grabs his or her emerging leader and begins to delegate things away and calls it empowerment. The problem is that delegation and empowerment are different and when we don’t understand what empowerment is, we will never hit it. Instead we will mistakingly embrace one of its three imposters which leave church members confused and church leaders disappointed.
WHAT IS EMPOWERMENT?
Think back to the last time you saw a student driver car on the road. If you are like me, you did whatever you could to avoid the fifteen year old that was potentially behind the wheel for the first time. Despite the fear it places in nearby cars, what is happening between the student and the instructor is a great example of empowerment.
In his book, Sticky Church, Larry Osborne identified a predominant belief in the church that he labeled the Holy Man Myth. “[This] is the idea that pastors and clergy somehow have a more direct line to God. It cripples a church because it overburdens pastors and underutilizes the gifts and anointing of everyone else. It mistakenly equates leadership gifts with superior spirituality (Stick Church, 49).”
When the Holy Man Myth is embraced, church leaders believe the lie that the execution of ministry rests fully on their shoulders, while lay people believe the lie that they are consumers not contributors. This leads to leaders executing the ministry of the church from the platform to the parking lot; from the church to the home. Their job description reflects the mentality below:
Every time I tell our group that we are multiplying, someone says something like, “We love our group! If we have such a good thing going, why mess it up?” My quippy, short response usually is, “Aren’t you glad the disciples did?” or “Aren’t you glad someone made space for you in their group?” Though this is a fun “drop the mic” response, it isn’t always the most loving or helpful. This question is valid and one that should be asked. If there is not some sense of sadness around multiplication, then it probably isn’t a group that should multiply.
The truth is that group multiplication comes with multiple emotions. There is an initial sadness of not seeing some of your friends on a weekly basis, but also an excitement about the new relationships you will make and the life change that you will experience firsthand. These feelings highlight a tension that needs to be unpacked further.
Two common ways to multiply a group are through launching and splitting. Launching is when you send out a leader and a core group, while splitting is when your group grows too large and you then split it into two medium-sized groups. Personally, I recommend launching a leader with a core group of four to six people.
Launching emphasizes the “sent people” value that we mentioned in an earlier post. As you pray and commission the leader and group, it feels similar to a church plant, while the split approach can often feel like divorce and leave people nervously picking a group. Additionally, the trigger for launching a new group is when you have a leader who is ready to lead, while splitting waits until a group is overpopulated. The former emphasizes leadership development and reinforces vision, where the latter often feels like a logistical remedy. Lastly, launching can be done well in a group of ten or a group of twenty-five.
Think back on your favorite vacation. Through the years, as you have reminisced on this trip, you have probably replayed a few select memories over and over again. Research shows that we recall experiences by forgetting most of what happened and focusing on a few particular moments. The question is, “How can we create the moments that people will remember?”
In Power of Moments, The Heath brothers explain not just how moments shape you, but how you can shape moments. Whether you are a leader who is planning his next event or a parent who wants to create meaningful moments with their children, the Heath brothers give simple steps to help you create moments that will be remembered long after they are finished.
One of the most common questions about multiplication is “At what number should our group multiply?” What I love about this question is the expectation that the group will grow and that when it does, the group will multiply. Nonetheless, this isn’t the right question. The question should be more qualitative than quantitative. Health, not logistics, should drive the multiplication process.
Group multiplication is the product of spiritual growth, not numerical growth. It is better for a healthy group of eight to multiply, than an unhealthy group of 25. Furthermore, to send out a leader who isn’t ready with a group that doesn’t embrace the vision is a recipe for failure. By focusing on the health, not the number of members, you assure that your multiplication process will promote member health, not neglect it.
Think back on some of the key foundational things you learned in high school. Can you still do long division? Can you remember all the colors in Spanish? Can you recall the scientific method? If you are like me, you went 0 for 3 on that test. This is why the final learning practice, creating a “File It and Find It” system, is so important.
Our mind has a “use it or lose it” quality to it. If we are not regularly acting on what we learn, then it quickly vanishes. This is frustrating because what we can apply can’t keep pace with what we learn. When we read a book with ten great leadership principles, realistically we only are able to apply two or three and forget the other seven. When we read a book that applies more to our future job than our present, we forget the principle before we need it. Unfortunately, many of the leadership principles we need today, we forgot yesterday.
If you visited ten churches, all of them would probably have some type of group/class environment, but each would have its own unique strategy. You would see stances along several different spectrums: on-site/off-site, class/groups, closed/open, evangelism/discipleship, gender-specific/co-ed.
Over the last few years, I have learned that the best strategy is the one you will use. Though some strategies are better than others, the most influential factor in a strategy’s effectiveness is you. There is no silver bullet that works for every church in every context. Though each local church shares the same mission, the forms it uses to accomplish its primary functions, will differ. What is important is that evangelism, biblical community, and discipleship are evident in the life of every believer and represented in every church’s strategy.
For our church, we have open groups that meet in neighborhoods for the purpose of providing a life-changing community for those inside and outside the church walls. One of the important parts of our strategy is group multiplication. This isn’t something that is mandated to the believer or the church. It is simply the strategy we chose that reflects our theology and ministry philosophy. Group multiplication isn’t how we determine if a group is successful, but it is a byproduct of a successful group. When we provide a place where people can experience the love of Christ through His Word and His people, we will need to create more space for more to join. This philosophy is built upon a biblical theme we see in society’s engagement with Avengers: Endgame and the Early Church’s emphasis on hospitality.