Category Archives: Conversations

Helping First-Time Guests Want to Come Back a Second Time – Church Assimilation and Connection Teams

Blog - Church Connection Team - bpnews.net Photo Credit: bpnews.net

Any one of us in church was once new to that church. Such an awkward place to be. I remember just this year walking into a church gathering for the first time. It seemed everyone else knew each other and there was a general sense of easy familiarity between people. Were we the only ones new? Of  course not!

Being new is not where any of us want to stay. Trying to find a church home or just “going” to church aren’t very deep relational experiences. They are first steps to being part of a church, but you definitely don’t want to stay in that new or transient place long…or the temptation is just to not go back, or not go often…definitely doesn’t reflect what it’s like to really be church.

This is why churches need to be intentional in welcoming and connecting first-time guests. We met Ken Bevel at a conference a couple of years ago, and he introduced that term “assimilation” to us. He is a retired Marine Captain, and actor in Kendrick Brothers’ films (Fireproof, Courageous), and pastor of assimilation at Sherwood Baptist Church. He talked with us a bit about his job of working with a team who is responsible for that first-time guest – from the parking lot to “pew” to “home group” (real connection with others in the church).Blog - Ken Bevel - COnnecting[Ken Bevel (r), Pastor for Assimilation & Events, Sherwood Baptist Church, Albany, Georgia – making the guy on the left feel welcome.]

When we gather as church, extending hospitality to each other is a service we want to extend to all who join us. We’re still new as part of our church community (Movement Church) and don’t really know who’s new or if it’s just that we haven’t met them. Movement Church has a connecting team and we benefitted from it. Our strategy now is to treat those we meet, entering the building or in the hall or grabbing coffee, as if they were first-time guests. Sometimes they are…and sometimes they’ve been a part of the community for much longer than us…it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that we welcome one another…with generous grace and genuine interest.Blog - Connections & Assimilation - bpnews.netPhoto Credit: bpnews.net

Churches gather in all kinds of configurations – large and small, in homes and large buildings or public places. Blog - Connecting and AssimilatingBlog - Connecting & Assimilating - bpnew.netProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 presetPhoto Credit: House church pic is mine; other two bpnews.net

Whatever our church, we want to watch out for those first-time guests just as we honor those long-time faithful ones. What do they need? Who might they enjoy meeting there? How do we pray for them…follow-up with them?

Below are great resources to help the church set strategy to be intentional in our hospitality…to make first-time guests feel at home and want to come back a second time. Better still…to become part of who we are…a community who loves God and all those He places in our spaces.

12 Ways Churches “Welcome” Guests – Chuck Lawless

Six Simple Things a First-Guest Likes – Thom Rainer

Top Ten Ways Churches Drive Away First-Time Guests – Thom Rainer

Ten MORE Ways Churches Drive Away First-Time Guests – Thom Rainer

Creating a Strong Assimilation System – Powerpoint – Stephen Gray

Connecting With One Another – A Step-by-Step Approach to Guest and New Member Assimilation – Thesis – Kevin Ray Milburn

Ten Church Strategies – The Assimilation Strategy

Marine Captain-Turned-Pastor “Courageous” – Ken Bevel – The “Courageous” Interview with Kam Williams

Sherwood Baptist Church

5 Friday Faves – an Apple, a Podcast, an Apologist, a List of Great Books, and Something We Can Do for Refugees

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1. An Apple – Honeycrisp  – my husband’s favorite – we only have them for a few months in the Fall and are glad when they’re around and especially on special. Welcome back. Blog - Honeycrisp apples - Friday Faves

2. An Apologist – An apologist is someone who makes a defense of a faith or belief. Nancy Pearcey is an educator and writer. An agnostic in her early life, she became a Christian through a deep study of God. She presents the Christian worldview in such a clear, reasoned way. The subjective, sometimes silly and sometimes sinister, arguments we hear a lot of these days, both inside Christianity and from its foes, are put to rest. I discovered her through a book review by Tim Challies and an article of her own. I was captivated by her clarity on the God I love. Desiring to know better how to both understand and rightly represent God to friends and family. So…I bought both her books and am tearing into them: Finding Truth and Total Truth.Blog - Friday Faves - Nancy Pearcey - Apologist

3. A PodcastThe Eric Metaxas Show with Karen Swallow-Prior – Lively conversation about Hannah More – an English poet and supporter of William Wilberforce’s battle against slave trade. This podcast came on the eve of Metaxas’ book release – Seven Women: And the Secret of Their Greatness. Hannah More is one of those seven.

Blog - Friday Faves - 7 Women by Eric Metaxas

Photo Credit: amazon.com

4. A List of Great BooksChuck Lawless gives us a list of books that have had considerable impact on his spiritual formation.  I’ve read five of them – #1, #2, #4, #6, and #10.  Need to read the others.2014 May Blog 018

5. Something We Can Do For Refugees – The plight of refugees around the world moves us to act…but how? What can I really do? Marilyn Gardner has written several blogs this month with practical helps for any of us who want to intervene, effectively. Both short-term crisis care and over the long haul of resettlement. Two of her blogs were especially helpful for me: Self-Sufficiency in 8 Months – How to Settle a Refugee and Trauma-Informed Care.

As Syrian refugees continue to stream into neighboring countries and beyond the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) projects the number of registered refugees will soon reach the 4 million mark. (PHOTO BY JEDEDIAH SMITH)

Photo Credit: bpnews.net/photos

These are some of my favorite finds this week. What do you have to share? Looking forward to learning from you and enjoying your faves.

Seven Women: and the Secret of Their Greatness by Eric Metaxas

One Strategy to Rule Them All – How to Answer Skeptics from Romans 1 – Nancy Pearcey

Finding Truth – Tim Challies’ Review of Nancy Pearcey’s Book

Ten Books That Have Shaped My Life – Chuck Lawless

Self-Sufficiency in 8 Months – How to Settle a Refugee – Marilyn Gardner

Trauma-Informed Care – Marilyn Gardner

Baptist Global Response

Is Our Yes Still on the Table? Re-Visiting What It Means for Us to Follow God

Blog - Yes on the Table“Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us? Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Isaiah 6:8

Over two decades ago, my husband and I put our “Yes” on the table. We have been praying and thinking a lot about this lately – is our “yes” still on the table?

As a teenager, I thrilled to the words of Isaiah’s response to God’s inquiry. “Here am I. Send me!” Sitting around a campfire with other teens, challenged about our life direction, and singing “I Surrender All“…I first put my all-in “yes” on the table. At 15, tears of joyful release washing down my cheeks, it seemed the only response possible to a God who loved me so much. Today, “all” seems different, more complicated. Or is it my heart that’s changed?

We’re revisiting our “yes”. All I can think of is Jesus’ response to His Father’s will. Hours before He would give His life for us on a cross, He wrestled with the meaning of that “yes”. Jesus, this One who was from before the beginning, part of the Triune God, sinless, and perfect, poured out His human heart to His Father:

He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”Luke 22:41-42

In that moment, He revealed two huge truths to us who follow Him. 1) No matter what God’s will is, (fill in your own blanks here), He is worthy of following. How glorious to spend our lives in His redemptive will – so much larger and full of love and purpose than we might, on our own, choose for ourselves.

2) Because of how big God is and how small we feel in our human frames, there will be times  we bend toward a different road, a cleaner path, with plenty of shade (Jonah 4:5-6). Jesus is kind to show us that struggle…yet without sinning in it.

This “yes” on the table has also been described as giving God a blank check. Essentially telling Him we acknowledge His Lordship in our lives. There are some reading this who may chafe at that. He has given us minds to make thoughtful, impactful decisions. For me, the idea of signing my name to a “blank check” and giving the checkbook back to Him is a test of my heart, and the affections and motivations of that heart.Blog - Blank Check

I love how Simon Peter responded to Jesus during a point in their journey when others left them, having second thoughts:

So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. “We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”John 6:67-69

“Lord, to whom shall we go?” – There is no other life I want apart from knowing and following the God who pursued me through Jesus . No. Other. Life.

Still, we revisit our “yes”, our “blank check” when God confronts us with a possible course change – a turn in the road that could take us away (again) from family and friends we cherish, colleagues we choose, and work we have loved. Blog - Yes on the Table (2)

We have been in this place before…and we receive it again. I may be at this desk in this place, clicking keys a year from now…or more. Or we may be in a very different place. Wherever we are, there is grace for us (and for you), and glory for God…and all will be well.

Today, again, with trembling hands and resolute hearts, we lay the “yes” on the table. Whatever, wherever, God, we are trusting You, as we’ve trusted You before (even just minutes before this) to do what only You can do with our lives when they are wholly Yours. With wet-palmed excitement, deep joy…and peace…our “yes” is Yours.

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. – Philippians 1:6

[P.S. There will still be times that peace is shaken…it could be today…but I know from God’s Word, an old hymn, and experience that perfect peace can be ours as we keep our hearts fixed on Him. Fixed.]

A Blank Check – Randall D. Kittle

A Blank Check – A Devotion by Chris Hendrix

8 Reasons for Leaders to Give God a Blank Check – Chuck Lawless

Remembering 9/11 – and the Day Before – A Story of God and a Girl – a girl whose “Yes” was always on the table, a life gloriously lived.

TGIM – What Can We Do to Make a “Thank God It’s Monday” Work Culture?

Blog - Thank God It's Monday - bridgepointconnections.org

Photo Credit: BridgeportConnections.org

Don’t hate me, but I’ve always loved Mondays. Mondays read a fresh start for me…a clean slate. New possibilities. Sunday nights would sometimes mean a bout of anxiety or a bit of depression in my questioning of being mentally prepared for whatever Monday brought. All that cleared by the time I stepped outside, into my car, and headed for work.

TGIF (“Thank God/Goodness, it’s Friday!”) was never something I understood. It was hard for me to fathom grinding through a work week, longing for Friday. There’s a rhythm in work, requiring a certain number of days at it, and by Friday, I was ready for a break, but “living for the weekend” wasn’t my thinking on work.

This past Friday was an exception. Pressures at work did spill out over the purpose and pleasure of work such that Friday came just in time. So…I do understand TGIF. Still, it’s clear that God created work for us and I usually take joy in it. Hopefully this resonates with some of you…with others, maybe you might consider how TGIF could make room for TGIM as well.

Tim Hoerr, author of Risking It: An Intersection of Faith and Work, wrote an excellent piece on Building a “Thank God It’s Monday”. It’s a quick read and I strongly recommend it for anyone who struggles with taking joy in their work. It is possible to change your culture.

How does Tim Hoerr define a TGIM Culture?

  • TGIM culture: each team member engaging in challenging, meaningful work – each knowing that their individual contribution is a significant, integral part of the larger whole.
  • Second, each person has ample opportunity for growth and advancement. God has wired each of us to grow and desire new, richer experiences. Entrepreneurial environments are greenhouses for human growth.
  • Another feature of TGIM culture is that each team member and his or her efforts and contributions are being recognized by the company’s leadership. It doesn’t have to be terribly formal or fancy – but each of us want to know we matter and our work is making a difference.
  • TGIM culture means that the fruits of success are being shared by each of those making a contribution to that success. Although surveys show that compensation ranks relatively far down the list of what makes one satisfied, it is essential that the rewards be fairly shared amongst the team.

After defining a TGIM work culture, Hoerr gives a historic example, completely relevant to today’s workplace.

“If you examine the ‘work environment’ Jesus created with his ordinary band of followers, you’d have to say it was a template for our organizations today.”  Then Hoerr lists those components:

  • There was a common mission.
  • A series of challenging assignments.
  • Regular dialogue and interaction amongst the team.
  • Teaching and training in order to replicate the mission on a broader scale.
  • And, importantly, Jesus as the leader facilitating the larger purpose amidst his team’s diverse personalities and all-too-human tendencies.

Don’t miss the rest of Tim Hoerr’s piece on TGIM Culture.

Is the TGIM culture cultivated in your workplace? How might you see the components above implemented where you are – whether top-down or bottom-up? You can be part of making your work and workplace one where you look forward to Monday rather than just longing for Friday.

Tim Hoerr Website and original blog – Building a “Thank God It’s Monday” Culture

Building a “Thank God It’s Monday” Culture – featured at Institute for Faith, Work, & Economics Blog

Bridgeport Connections – Connecting Professional and Spiritual Life

All the “One Another” Commands in the NT (Infographic)

12 Ways to Glorify God at Work

Risking It: An Intersection of Faith and Work by Tim Hoerr

Blog - Thank God It's Monday - Risking It by Tim Hoerr

Photo Credit: Amazon.com

5 Friday Faves – a Favorite Beverage, a Pic of a Little Girl, a List of Critical Habits, a Pinterest Page of VIdeo Clips, and Job Search/Recruitment Group

Blog - Friday Faves

How does a week fly by so fast?! Here are my 5 Friday Faves. It’s been a tough work week here. That’s for another day. It has, of course, had an impact on my Friday Faves. Be encouraged, get moving, enjoy a laugh, and remember God loves you and is in the work of bringing good out of every situation…

  1. Favorite Beverage – Coffee. Hello! The coffee we drink in our house is an inexpensive and completely satisfying brand  – Eight O’Clock Colombian Peaks. Available in most grocery stores around here but we order from Amazon.com so we never run out. If I can’t have Moroccan coffee in Morocco (below, right), then it’s Eight O’clock.

Blog - Friday Faves - CoffeeBlog - Friday Faves - Coffee 2

2) Pic of a Little Girl – A friend of mine taught English in China last year. One of the classroom teaching strategies was for each child to have a name more common in Anglophone countries. This probably was a help both to the teacher and to the students. This darling little girl had my name: Blog - Faves - Chinese girl with my English class name Hailey Williams teacher (2)Photo Credit: Hailey Williams

Can’t leave this Friday Fave without putting up one more “little girl” picture. This little Moroccan girl singing her heart out in Bouskoura Forest, outside of Casablanca:

Little Girl Singing

3. Critical Habits of Mentally Strong People – Travis Bradberry published a super helpful article on mental toughness. He lists 15 critical habits of mentally strong people. Take a minute to go to this article for some quick, clear counsel on building up your mental muscle. – not just for work, also for anything where mental toughness (not hardness) would help.Blog - Friday Faves - Habits of Mentally Strong People - slideshare.netPhoto Credit: Slideshare.net

4) A Pinterest Page of Video Clips – This board belongs to Heather VanStaalduinen.  She has pinned several fun videos to use in the classroom to teach various concepts and character traits. Pixar and Disney animation are well represented along with other videos you will recognize. My classical guitarist son is adding teaching groups of middle school students to his repertoire. These might come in handy.

Blog - Friday Faves - Video Clips - Pinterest

Photo Credit: TeachTrainLove.com – also a great resource for videos.

5) Job Search/Recruitment Group – I had the opportunity, via Skype, this week to meet Michael Thompson, founder and managing director of the Turas Group. He was working remotely with a group looking to take a leap into new careers. Very smart, personable, and handling each participant with respect and individual care. If I was looking for a job right now, Turas Group would be the go-to agency for me. More about Michael Thompson and this group next week.Blog - Friday Faves - Turas Group

Have a great re-charging weekend. I love my work such that Friday isn’t the goal for me. This week, I find myself among those who rejoice that it’s finally here. Will leave you with this verse from God’s Word:

“We have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” –                   2 Corinthians 4:8-9

If you had a hard week – use this weekend to take a deep breath, regain perspective, and see all the good that surrounds us. I’ll be right there with you, in this.

 

Parenting – the Way We Did It and the Way the French Do It – Bringing Up Bébé

Blog - Parenting 1

Years before marriage and parenting, I had a life-altering experience of children that stayed with me all this time. A college friend, Marc, invited me out with his brother’s family. We went out to dinner at a nice (i.e. adult) restaurant. Since the children were small – preschool and elementary-aged – I wasn’t at all sure how the evening would go. They were captivating. Not because it was all about them. On the contrary. They enjoyed the conversation around the table as much as I did. Their ability to engage with the adults, to ask questions and listen, to offer their own amusing stories to the mix of talk was well beyond what I thought possible at their age. They gave me hope.

Parenting did not come naturally to me. I had a wonderful mom. There was no one like her. She had to work as we grew up and then had to take care of all that home management stuff on the weekends. With what time she had left, she mothered us very well. I just never knew how she did it. It was a complete mystery to me.

Our children came (2 biologically and our last by way of adoption) during the strong restart of home schooling in the US (late 80s and early 90s). With home schooling came a much more interventional parenting style. We were enthralled with the idea of keeping our children home with us to do and learn about life together. Through all their schooling years, with many of them living overseas, there were only a few when we actually home schooled, but I loved it…loved that time of discovery, and wonder, and endured the occasional exasperation at our struggle to master one subject or another.

Our parenting during those early years had a home schooling imprint on it. We even followed the 21 Rules of This House originated by a leading home school parent Gregg Harris.

The 21 Rules Of This House
by Gregg Harris

1. We obey God.
2. We love, honor and pray for one another.
3. We tell the truth.
4. We consider one another’s interests ahead of our own.
5. We speak quietly and respectfully with one another.
6. We do not hurt one another with unkind words or deeds.
7. When someone needs correction, we correct him in love.
8. When someone is sorry, we forgive him.
9. When someone is sad, we comfort him.
10. When someone is happy, we rejoice with him.
11. When we have something nice to share, we share it.
12. When we have work to do, we do it without complaining.
13. We take good care of everything that God has given us.
14. We do not create unnecessary work for others.
15. When we open something, we close it.
16. When we take something out, we put it away.
17. When we turn something on, we turn it off.
18. When we make a mess, we clean it up.
19. When we do not know what to do, we ask.
20. When we go out, we act just as if we were in this house.
21. When we disobey or forget any of the 21 Rules of This House, we accept the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

This set of rules helped me parent. One thing I really appreciated was that the rules were not just for the children but for all our family. No double-standard. These rules didn’t mean we were defined by “Do’s & Don’t’s”. They just helped me not to be all over the place. I also had great parenting mentors and practical, loving friends (see Balcony People) who encouraged me through the challenges of growing up kids. I didn’t need help with the joys.

Blog - ParentingBlog - Parenting in EgyptMy friend, Marc, & our first-born.     Our three at play in Cairo, Egypt.

Our kids and their mom and dad grew up together. We learned how to parent with them, and they learned how to grow into each age.Blog - Parenting 2

 As the saying goes, they grew too fast. As much as I love them as adults, I miss those years together more than I can say.Blog - Parenting 3

Now our first-born daughter has her own first-born. She isn’t using The 21 Rules of This House although she values its impact on her own life. She has been reading Pamela Druckerman’s Bringing Up Bébé – a book on French parenting by an American who spent her new parent years in Paris. Her book chronicles those years as she observed French families, babies and parents. Her experience of these children reflected mine long ago with Marc’s nieces and nephews.

Through the years and in our travels, we’ve experienced different cultures of parenting, and what I’ve read in Bringing Up Bébé is definitely counsel to be considered. The author and mom ends her humorous story with 100 Keys to French Parenting. My favorite 15 are below:

15 of the 100 Keys to French Parenting

#10 – Give Your Baby a House Tour – orient your newborn to where they will call home.

#11 – Observe Your Baby – Get to really know your baby. Watch her.

#12 – Tell Your Baby the Truth – Help him know that he can always believe what you tell him. It builds trust and confidence even in wee ones.

#20 – Do “The Pause” – The French don’t let their newborns “cry it out”, but they do pause before rescuing baby from nighttime crying. The goal is to help the baby learn how to settle back down herself.

#32 – Everyone Eats the Same Thing – There is no such thing as “kid” foods on the every-day French table. They learn to eat and appreciate “adult” food.

#35 – You Choose the Foods, She Chooses the Quantities – No food battles. Children take a bite of what is put on the plate. They don’t have to finish it.

#41 – Dinner Shouldn’t Involve Hand-to-Hand Combat – When they’re done, they’re done. Release them from the table when they’re finished eating.

#46 – Teach the Four magic Words – Please. Thank You. Hello. Goodbye. – Learning from an early age to be courteous and empathetic to others.

#50 – Back Off at the Playground – Children are given freedom to play without adults hovering. Safety assured, but exploration encouraged.

#53 – Give Kids Lots of Chances to Practice Waiting – Teaching delayed gratification.

#60 – View Coping with Frustration as a Crucial Life Skill

#63 – Give Kids Meaningful Chores – This folds right into the teaching of my favorite book on adolescence (Escaping The Endless Adolescence).

#89 – Make Evenings Adult Time – As parents carve out time for their own relationships, they teach children to value the importance as well.

#91 – Say “No” with Conviction – When parents say “No”, they need to mean it.

#92 – Say “Yes” as Often as You Can – Saving the “No’s” for when they matter most.

I would love to hear about your parenting years with your kiddos. What helped you? Anything you would do differently? Would love to dialogue on this topic…just for fun. We as parents should lavish grace on each other; parenting is a big job…

And then they were grown…

Blog - Parenting 4

Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting (now with Bébé Day by Day: 100 Keys to French Parenting)

Pamela Druckerman, author of Bringing Up Bébé

Home Schooling Goes Mainstream

Bringing Up Bebe? No Thanks. I’d Rather Raise a Billionaire

Uncommon Courtesy – Blog – Recommended Reading

Organizational Culture – 5 Questions – Notes on a Podcast with Barnabas Piper, Todd Adkins, and Eric Geiger

Blog - 5 Leadership Questions - Organizational CultureMy latest favorite podcast (one of my 5 Friday Faves last week) was this conversation between Barnabas Piper (co-host), Eric Geiger, and Todd Adkins (co-host). On Lifeway’s 5 Leadership Questions, they tackled the topic of creating a healthy organizational culture.

Image processed by CodeCarvings Piczard ### FREE Community Edition ### on 2015-05-18 23:11:32Z | http://piczard.com | http://codecarvings.comBlog - eric Geiger - 5 Leadership QuestionsBlog - Todd Adkins - 5 Leadership Questions

In the podcast, they ask and answer 5 questions about organizational culture. I took notes. Listen to the podcast if you can, but if you don’t, read on. These guys have captured something we all need to consider in thinking about our workplaces and have our values speak to how healthy we are…or are not.

1) What is an organizational culture? – Culture is defined as those values or beliefs that undergird who we are and what we’re about in our organization. Culture is “everything beneath the surface that drives behavior”. Whether we are in tune to our work culture or not, we share values as a group and those values drive our behavior. There are two types of values within a culture – aspirational and actual. Aspirational values – what’s on the wall. Actual values – what takes place in the hall. Values are so embedded in culture that we take them for granted. They include philosophies and strategies and can be both good and bad for the health of our organization. What is the personality of your organization?  Psychologist Alfred Adler wrote, in 1920s, that to be healthy, three things need to be in alignment: 1) how you perceive yourself, 2) how others perceive you, and 3) how you want to be perceived. Apply that to your organization: does who you say you are match with who you actually are? This will give you a diagnosis of how healthy your organization is…if you’re willing to take a hard, honest look. How did you get the culture you have?Piper, Adkins, and Geiger then talked about how the leader of an organization will shape culture. Leaders shape culture and after three years, it will be the culture they have shaped.  If leaders don’t intentionally shape the culture, it will evolve on its own [somewhat in reaction to that leader – my take on that].

2) What are the consequences if you don’t build and shape a culture (if you let it passively happen)? “If you don’t actively cultivate the culture, whoever has the loudest voice or the clearest vision wins.” There is formal and informal authority as well as formal and informal influence with impact on an organization’s culture.  The informal influence/authority of a long-time trusted employee is important and should be respected. Culture, healthy or unhealthy, can “trump” a new leader’s ideas or strategy. “A healthy culture won’t tolerate an unwise move or won’t tolerate someone being treated inappropriately. A healthy staff culture will call people out – “We don’t talk to people that way here/we don’t treat people that way here. That’s sacred for us here.” Wise leaders will give the culture its voice as new, healthier culture is built.

3) What is the starting point for a leader to create culture? 1) Assess the culture of your organization. “It’s a mistake to say everything is broken, ruined, messed-up in this culture and we need to rebuild a whole new culture. You’re wrong. There are things that are affirmable in that culture.” [Eric Geiger on not loathing the culture you lead]  2) Find what is affirmable in your culture and affirm them. 3) Then deal with what is not present that needs to be. “For every 2 actual values, you can have one aspirational value.” If you are a new leader of an organization, resist the temptation to shake it down entirely and rebuild the culture reflecting your values. “Actual values are the foundation upon which you build culture. Affirm over and over. Then work to implement [that other value that’s only present in aspiration form].”

Blog - Organizational CUlture - Lencioni book Silos, Politics & Turf Wars

Everybody needs to read Lencioni’s Politics, Silos, Turf Wars. “What is Bucket 1? – core DNA – values we do not change. Don’t even ask. Bucket 2? – Maybe. Wasn’t our Core DNA but goes against what we want. Bucket 3? – Do whatever you want.” The core values of a culture are those that are bedrock for your organization to continue. “Ask what of your culture is not going to change. When those things come up, address them immediately. What is counter-culture? Kill them. [Examine] what we pay attention to; how we react to crisis; the role models that we raise up; the stories we tell; the heroes we create.” Plato once said: “What is celebrated is cultivated.”  You are able to influence culture by telling new stories. What does your culture celebrate? What do you see that kills culture?

4) What are culture-killers in an organization that need to be abolished? What are signs of culture that needs to be celebrated? What are the culture killers not to be tolerated?A culture-killer would be the continued allowance of violative behavior of those values. If among a staff team the cultural value is we treat each other with respect; we’re a family; we do ministry together – and you have a lone ranger who gets promoted?…that’s a culture-killer.” Anything that violates the organization’s culture is a no-go. Disrespect. Passive-Aggressive behavior. Lying. You can’t tolerate such things. Then what in culture should be celebrated? As team members exhibit organizational values in their work and demeanor, you hold them up for everyone to celebrate. “Point out and celebrate when your culture’s values are fleshed out. Give a story; mention the value; celebrate a specific value of the organization lived out; from each campus/department. Remind each other that all these things are going on in different places/departments and the impact we’re having together.”

5) What does it look like to hire and fire strategically to create the kind of culture an organization needs. People create culture.  1) Hire on the values. Look for displayed commitment to the values before the person is on the team. You ask questions. Look for history. You see if they have to sacrifice something to be on your team. Do they have to become someone they’re not to be a part of the team? 2) Removing people – a strong culture is going to make it very uncomfortable for someone to stay who doesn’t have the same values. They will self-select out of a culture not like them. They’re saying, “This isn’t really me.” The organization says, “Here’s who we are.” “If they’re not going to help the culture stay healthy, you don’t want them on that team. You want them to be a fish out of water if this isn’t the culture for them. It’s about fit not worth. There is a culture for them somewhere that matches their values.”

I love these guys – Barnabas Piper, Todd Adkins, and Eric Geiger. This podcast was very timely in my own cultural experience. I am watching an organization dear to me go through a painful downsizing – through a voluntary retirement incentive to start. This organization (both aspirationally and actually) values longevity, experience, perseverance, and history. You can imagine the struggle within of how to come to grips with this direction – necessary but heart-wrenching for them as an organization. Organizational culture is important to understand. It is how we help our culture through a crisis to get back to a healthy place. Culture cannot be disregarded.

Don’t Loathe the Culture You Lead by Eric Geiger

How Not to Loathe the Culture You Are Leading – Eric Geiger

Silos, Politics and Turf Wars: A Leadership Fable About Destroying the Barriers That Turn Colleagues Into Competitors by Patrick Lencioni

Silos, Politics and Turf Wars – PDF – Executive Book Summaries

SlideShare – Organization Culture and Climate

Organizational Structure and Culture – Principles of Management – New Charter University

Mission Drift: The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities, and Churches by Peter Greer and Chris Horst

Photo Credits: 5 Leadership Questions Header. Barnabas Piper, Eric Geiger, and Todd Adkins

 

5 Friday Faves – One Podcast on Organizational Culture, 3 Great Reads (Self-Medicating, Hard Decisions, Affliction) & a Sing-along

Blog - Friday Faves

1) A Podcast – 5 Leadership Questions about Building a Great Organizational Culture – This is a great conversation between Barnabas Piper, Todd Adkins, and Eric Geiger on organizational culture. They define culture as “shared values beneath the surface that drive behavior”. Aspirational values (what takes place on the wall) are distinguished from actual values (what takes place in the hall). What is your workplace culture? “We don’t treat people like that here”. Like what? What culture do you have or hope to build?Blog - Organizational Culture - slideshare.netPhoto Credit: Slideshare.net

Also see Organizational Culture and Climate – SlideShare.

2) On Self-Medication5 Socially Acceptable Ways Church Leaders Self-Medicate  – Carey Nieuwhof, a Canadian pastor and thinker on leadership, writes about how leaders can get caught up in “socially acceptable” self-medicating as a way to manage their stress. Important read for anyone in leadership.Blog - Self-medicating with Carey NieuwhofPhoto Credit: CareyNieuwhof.com

3) On Hard DecisionsBuilding the Courage to Make Changes  by Dr. Danita Johnson Hughes. Quick read on steps in making difficult workplace decisions. I have dear friends going through a tough downsizing which has to happen for their organization to survive. It took huge courage, faith, and forward-thinking on the part of the leaders to make that hard decision. .A Bible study along these lines can be found in a Slideshare on the Gospel of Mark (chapter 14).Blog - hard Decisions

Photo Credit: GreatLeadersServe.com – also a good resource.

4) On Affliction in the Lives of 3 Men – The Hidden Smile of God: The Fruit of Affliction in the Lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd (The Swans Are Not Silent, Book 2) by John Piper. The Swans Are Not Silent series by John Piper is a collection of biographies, grouped in such a way as to point to a particular character, situation, or gift from God. This volume is particularly fascinating to me because of how these men demonstrate the nearness of God in lives torn by trouble.

Blog - The Hidden Smile of God - John Piper on Affliction

Photo Credit: DesiringGod.org

5) A Sing-Along – YouTube videos of classic songs done in a bit different way. Enjoy and have a restful weekend.

YouTube Video – I Will Follow Him with André Rieu

YouTube Video – U.S. Navy Band – Selections from Jersey Boys

Workplace Wisdom – Dave’s Observation on Work (and other) Relationships – What You Think of Others Matters

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At first, you really liked working with this person. Then, bit by bit, he/she began wearing on you. He is always playing with his phone. Her solution to today’s problem is too labor-intensive. His email responses have become terse. She is late for your meeting. You think, maybe I was wrong about him. He is not the person I thought he was. Maybe, she’s the wrong person on the bus.

When a relationship begins to deteriorate at work (or home), you are wise to take steps to turn this around as quickly as possible. You could be in a work situation that has been difficult from the outset. It is still possible for you to make inroads in turning that relationship toward a more healthy or positive one. If not altogether, at least from your side. Consider an adage that has had a long and useful run in our family and work.

Your opinion of someone approximates their opinion of you.Dave Mills

There are exceptions, but I have found this to be wise counsel (from my husband, no less) in both personal and professional relationships. When what was a warm, congenial relationship takes a turn toward the negative, you can actually work, from your side, to restore the relationship. Even to take it to a deeper level. It can get more uncomfortable at first, because you have to start with your own thoughts toward that person. How have they changed?

We send signals to each other – whether we speak or not.

My Mom raised us out of the era of Walt Disney’s Bambi:

“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.”

Good counsel except for the conversations that still go on in our heads and color our attitudes, our tone of voice, our preferences, and our decisions.

Let’s say I have an amicable relationship with a colleague, and then something happens. I may not even be aware of it – a misunderstanding, a misconstrued action, an insensitivity unaware. Then a chill develops, or a clear outright dislike. I have a window of opportunity to clear that up. Otherwise, if I don’t act, then a process can begin where I decide that person is a jerk and has woefully misjudged me…and off we go.

Remember: This can go both ways. You may have had a few off days with a colleague, and find yourself just not thinking so well of him, then stop it! It’s possible you can keep them from picking up that signal and prevent the relationship from getting more toxic as they decide you’re not so great either.

If I refuse to think ill of another person and discipline myself to be respectful, deferent in my demeanor, and tireless in pursuing understanding, I could restore that relationship. If it doesn’t improve right away, my attitude and actions work for my own benefit and can definitely help build trust with my team members. One day…that relationship may also turn. It’s worth the effort.

Blog - What You Think of People Matters - Dave

Jon Acuff talks about the four ways we invest in our careers – through skills, character, hustle, and relationships. In an interview with LifeReimagined.com, he had this to say about difficult, or neglected, work relationships:

“Even if you have skills, character and hustle, without relationships, it’s the career version of the Emperor’s New Clothes. Why?”

“If you don’t have relationships, you eventually don’t have people in your life who can tell you the truth about the decisions you’re making. You don’t have people who can tell you no or question you honestly. What I’ve learned is that leaders who can’t be questioned end up doing questionable things.”LifeReimagined.com interview with Jon Acuff

He identifies three types of people in our lives (work or otherwise, really): friends, foes, and advocates. Jon writes in Do Over:

“The best thing to give a foe is distance. We should ignore most foes. The problem of course is that we won’t. If your definition of foe is too loose and is essentially “anyone who kind of bothers me ever,” your job is going to be miserable. If you see people as your adversaries, it’s almost impossible to have a good working relationship with them. The first thing is to understand whether these foes are clueless or calculated. A clueless foe is that person whose behavior encourages you to fail. They are not malicious. They are not trying to make you lose, but with the power of their influence you are. “Bad habits are almost always a social disease – if those around us model and encourage them, we’ll almost always fall prey. Turn ‘accomplices’ into ‘friends’ and you can be two-thirds more likely to succeed.”Jon Acuff, Do Over

I think what Jon says is true. Because of my own worldview and value system (and married to Dave all these years), I don’t think we can just acknowledge there are foes out there and distance yourself from them. Sometimes, that is virtually impossible and still be effective at work. Because what can happen, if we don’t act to keep our own thinking clear, is that we take on some of that “foe-dom” ourselves. Maybe you aren’t going to be bosom buddies with this person, but your own work and other relationships can suffer if you develop bad habits around this person. Better to work on the relationship.

Blog - What You Think of People Matters - Dave 6 (2)Blog - What You Think of People Matters - Dave 6

“For no matter what we achieve, if we don’t spend the vast majority of our time with people we love and respect, we cannot possibly have a great life. But if we spend the vast majority of our time with people we love and respect – people we really enjoy being on the bus with and who will never disappoint us – then we will almost certainly have a great life, no matter where the bus goes. The people we interviewed from the good-to-great companies clearly loved what they did, largely because they loved who they did it with. – Jim Collins, Good to Great

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For as he thinks within himself, so he is. Proverbs 23:7

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.Philippians 4:8

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 Do Over by Jon Acuff

Fourteen Indispensable Leadership Quotes from Jim Collins – Thom Rainer

How to Deal With Difficult Co-workers – Read keeping in mind that some days you might be the one perceived as difficult.

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Photos: Just a few of the men in Dave’s life who required no special work on his part to love and respect…and there are many more. Grateful.

The Planned Parenthood Protest – 5 Questions & a Guarded Observance

Planned parenthood Protest beginningYou formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.Psalm 139:13-14

A friend invited me to join her in a protest this morning. A protest against Planned Parenthood. It’s been many years since I’ve participated in such a public outcry. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the protest…thinking “what will it accomplish?” We are so polarized as a culture along such lines. Then I read John Piper’s appeal out of which this nationwide event seemed to have originated.

My Facebook status yesterday revealed my struggle, after reading the article above:

I’ve been invited to a protest Saturday – it is a moral dilemma for me. What will protesting do if I’ve done little else? Protesting is a step …because something has to give here…something has to change. It’s bigger than the group being protested…it’s as big as our culture and our willingness to turn away from human suffering…at all extremes of life. God, help us. We have to wake up. We have to pray…and be willing to reach out to those around us in dire straits…starting with the tiniest ones, and forward. If you don’t read anything else of the article linked, read the last paragraph – my stomach so knotted up, I thought I was going to vomit.

Part of the turmoil in my head and heart was wrestling with how to love like God loves. God loves these babies. God loves those who conceived them. God loves the personnel and supporters of Planned Parenthood. What do we do with all that?

I guardedly decided to go to the protest…tuned to that love of God…

Planned Parenthood in our town is open for business 7 days a week. Arriving shortly after this Planned Parenthood center opened and before the crowd fully gathered, I was more an observer. Right away, I was glad I went. There were so many already there, well-organized, passionate yet peaceful, gentle souls. Just being with them, I could see what some of my next steps will be.

One sign particularly caught my attention. “I regret my abortion.”Planned Parenthood Protest - I Regret My AbortionThis took me back many years to a dear single friend who got pregnant at a very inconvenient and difficult time. She saw no other recourse but to abort, with the committed urging of her boyfriend at the time.  Then they broke up. That was 30 years ago, and she never, to her knowledge, conceived again. She grieved her decision just weeks after…and she’s mourned it ever since.

Planned Parenthood Protest - Looking Out for the Little Guy

Some at this protest today wore these blue t-shirts with the byline “watching out for the little guys”. Given the videos being published in the last several days exposing Planned Parenthood’s sale of fetal organs, we must consider really what is happening here. I can’t watch those videos, but a friend, mother of twins, told me when she watched the most recent one featuring a later-term fetus, she said her babies weren’t much bigger at birth. It really hit home for her!

We must re-think what’s happening in abortion. We must also consider and care for the mothers of these little ones. Also, it caused me to wonder again, “where are the fathers?” It’s like the incident during Jesus’ ministry, when the religious leaders were preparing to stone a woman “caught in the act, in the very act” of adultery. Jesus essentially rescued her from these men…her partner didn’t need rescuing…he wasn’t there. I believe there are supportive fathers going through these painful situations with their wives or partners…but too many women have to make these decisions without the support that could turn the tide for them.

My questions come at this juncture:

  1. What more can I do? – besides protest or support a particular political candidate? Neither of these seem to make much of a difference lately. I’m beginning to ask questions and am determined to be more accountable in this…for what could be my part in this.
  2. What more can the church do? Or others collectively whose eyes are opening to atrocities beyond our imagining. Even if it’s not universal, if it’s happening anywhere, it could happen everywhere. What are options we can genuinely support? Adoption. Fostering children. Supporting the moms. Public awareness. Educating young people to make wise choices.
  3. Is there a better way to serve? What education is best? What financial aid is most empowering/beneficial? What care is needed? Could our schools and community health centers serve the needs of these most vulnerable without the help of Planned Parenthood? We can’t just condemn what is out there, if we are not willing to be a part of something better. I’m going to be asking more questions along these lines…and will let you know what I find out.
  4. Is the clinical need for fetal tissue in the treatment of some diseases circumventing finding a better solution to these illnesses? It’s like with pornography, is the demand feeding the supply? We must raise questions about and fund research for the use of adult stem cells or other remedies in the treatment of these debilitating diseases. We are just assuming fetal tissue is the answer.
  5. Who are those crying out against the racial side of abortion? I want to join them. Statistically, most abortions in the US are performed on black women. Why isn’t there an outcry over that? If this population is the most vulnerable, let’s work together to determine a more substantive way to help them, other than just getting rid of all those precious babies.

Planned Parenthood Protest - signsPlanned Parenthood Protest

Abortion is not going away. We will never, I don’t believe, return to the days before Roe v. Wade. We do have to find a better way…we have to.

Abortion and Race

If Planned Parenthood Loses Government Funding, Here’s a Map of Health Clinics That Could Take Its Place

Planned Parenthood: Invitation, Explanation, Indignation – John Piper

Ben Carson vs. Planned Parenthood’s Margaret Sanger: Her own words circa 1939

Stem Cell FAQs – What are Stem Cells?

Hundreds protest at Planned Parenthood on Hamilton Avenue in Richmond

Pregnancy Resource Center of Metro Richmond

Amazing Raise – Fund-raising Campaign for Pregnancy Resource Center of Metro Richmond

Crisis Pregnancy Center – Bethany Christian Services

Safe Harbor Domestic Violence Shelter

Planned Parenthood Protest - Pray