3 Keys to Receiving Feedback

In any leadership position, inside and outside of the church, feedback is a necessary part of every leader’s development. If someone is not receiving feedback on a regular basis, they are not a leader. Leading and receiving feedback go hand-in-hand, and as a leader, learning how to receive, request and process feedback is required for personal growth.

  1. Receive feedback from any source, except for anonymous sources.

I love surveys, and I love to give and receive surveys. The data collected and mined through a survey can reveal trends, threads and threats in an organization or about any leader. That said, I hate anonymous surveys and comment cards. If someone can’t stand behind their opinion or observation, it’s hard for me to give credit to comments. When someone offers feedback in person or with a signed comment card, I receive it. I may not do anything with it, but I will receive it with thanksgiving. Gratitude is the easiest way to receive feedback before you filter it. Feedback offered from a known source should always be appreciated and evaluated against previous feedback.

  1. Request feedback from those you trust and desire to emulate.

Too many leaders ignore feedback or fail to seek it altogether. To grow as a leader, you’ll need to request feedback often – you can’t wait for it to always come to you. In fact, some of the people you respect the most might not ever have the opportunity to give you feedback unless you ask for it. I’m a little too obsessed with feedback times, but some of the best feedback I’ve received has been what I have intentionally sought. Every leader should have two or three other leaders that they desire to emulate, and these are great leaders to request feedback from. Send them a video, share your writing with them, and ask them to evaluate your work. Sometimes the best feedback is solicited.

  1. Process all feedback carefully before implementing anything new.

Whether the feedback is offered from a known source or someone you highly respect, filter your feedback. I use the following series of questions as a filter:

  • Have I heard this before?
  • Is this someone who knows my heart?
  • Is this a personal preference or a universal principle?
  • Is this a blind spot?

In addition to asking myself these, I also present the feedback I’m processing to close friends. There is no one better at helping me process feedback than my wife. She’s honest with me, even when it might require work on my end. Processing feedback with others and in prayer reveals the right action steps.

The better we receive feedback, the better we give feedback. Don’t back down from receiving, requesting, and processing feedback. You’ll be a better leader and a better follower.

I’d love to hear how you’re receiving feedback. Comment below.



One Mistake That is Easy to Avoid

Admit it; you make mistakes in ministry. I know I have. In fact, sometimes I feel like I’ve made more mistakes than I’ve made a difference, but I’m thankful for the grace of God and for the forgiveness of the people I’ve offended.

Being a leader in multisite ministry increases the opportunity for mistakes. There are often more meetings, more distance to travel, more emails to communicate vision and direction, and more logistics that require proper planning. The opportunities for failure are all around, but there is one mistake that is easy to avoid. Ready for it?

Here you go: Don’t make a STANCE at first GLANCE!

You know you’ve been there. Maybe you were making your way from one classroom to another as part of your teardown process on Sunday afternoon, and you spot one of your staff members just standing there goofing around with one of your key volunteers. “Why aren’t they helping,” you think to yourself. You walk by moments later, and they’re still standing there appearing to be doing nothing. Now you’re frustrated, and you shout out, “It’s okay, we got it!” Have you been there? Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve been there more than I’d like to admit.

Perhaps you can’t identify with my teardown story, but I wonder if you’ve experienced this “stance at first glance” mistake from a different perspective. You saw something, created a judgment about what you experienced, and reached a conclusion that later proved itself to be all wrong. Okay, maybe not you but what about someone else from your team? I think we can all admit that we’ve experienced something like this before. So how can we easily avoid this mistake?

Here’s what I’ve learned: ASSUME less and ASK more!

You know what happens when you assume, right? I won’t go into detail here, but assumption has the potential to destroy any relationship, at any time. When we take the time to ask questions about what we or others have observed or experienced, we can understand more clearly what’s going on.

That staff member that was not tearing down on Sunday afternoon and was just standing around tells you that the key volunteer he was talking to was just let go from his job on Friday without notice. What you saw as a prolonged discussion, possibly around Saturday’s game, turned into something much more intense and life changing.

What you or others experience in a moment is rarely all there is, assume less about the situation and ask more questions.

Have you been here before? How have you learned to avoid the mistake of assumption? Comment below.

It’s True, I’m Working for the Weekend!

Whether you’re a multisite or a single-site church leader, everyone in ministry is working for the weekend. If you’ve been in ministry any length of time, you’ve been asked more than once: “What do you do during the week?”

While someone who is not in full-time vocational ministry might not know what happens during the week, we do. Prayers are prayed, people are cared for in times of crisis, others are celebrated with during some of the most joyous moments of life. Bibles are studied, sermons are prepared, schedules are created, and songs are practiced. Plans are coming together for the next major event or outreach, teams are being mobilized for impact, leaders are being equipped, and the list goes on.

If you’re in ministry, you know about the actual work that should take place during the week, but let’s be honest. There are some ministry leaders who aren’t working during the week. In fact, I believe the weekend reveals what level of work has or hasn’t been during the week. I can’t help but wonder if the question, “What do you do all week?” came from frustrated weekend volunteers and church attendees?

Most of the time, the weekend reveals issues that should have been addressed Monday through Friday, but too many church staff leaders aren’t working for the weekend, they are working on the weekend.

The most critical part of my job as a campus pastor is not the platform time, but what I’m stewarding Monday through Friday.

So what does working for the weekend look like? Here are five things I “work” every week to make sure I’m ready for the weekend:

1. I connect with my team
Whether you have full-time staff members or not, you should be connecting with your staff/volunteer team weekly. We do this in various capacities, but the most important connect is to debrief the previous weekend, and forecast the coming weekend. As part of the debrief, it’s always important to share the wins. Looking for bright spots in your ministry is not as hard as you think. Where did you and your team win last weekend?

2. I share gratitude
We cannot do what we do without the people God has entrusted to us. Sharing our gratitude and thankfulness for our team is a daily job. Writing thank you notes, sending text messages or emails, and making personal calls are great ways to say “Thank You!” to an amazing volunteer. The adage, “What gets celebrated gets repeated!” is so true. When are you taking the time to express gratitude today?

3. I communicate early
Communication among teams is hard enough before you add the complexity of multisite ministry. As a leader, you cannot communicate enough. Key volunteers hate learning key things about the church during the announcement time, and your staff hates this too. Keeping volunteers and staff engaged and energized starts with communication. I love to tell our team, “You’re hearing this first!” or “We wanted you to be the first ones to know.” You’ll be surprised how thankful people are to know the direction. What do you know that your team needs to know now?

4. I prepare for the weekend (before the weekend)
As a campus pastor, I can’t prepare for my platform responsibilities on the weekend, I’ve got to get prepared beforehand. I typically do this on Thursday or Friday. I know a lot of ministry leaders take Friday off but I believe Friday is one of the best days to prepare for the weekend. Having carts for teams ready, supplies for the greeters, platforms prepared, and countless other tasks shouldn’t happen moments before service. What can you do today to prepare for the weekend?

5. I pray
This should go without saying, but I still struggle with the reality that I cannot do this on my own. Prayer reminds me of my role and God’s responsibility. Praying for your staff, volunteers, attendees, and guests shouldn’t happen only on the weekend. Create space to pray today for what God is going to do on the weekend.

Are you working for the weekend too? I’d love to hear your best practices for preparing for the weekend, comment below.

Not All God’s People Say, “Amen!”

Churches everywhere make statements, and do things that automatically place distance between themselves and those who are visiting for the first time. Let me set the scene.

It’s a rainy Sunday morning, and everyone’s trickled into the worship center a little late. The worship team was a little lethargic, and it took them a song or two to get into it. As they’re winding down the worship time, the pastor makes his way on to the platform to transition to the next part of the service, and prays a prayer. The prayer ends with the infamous phrase (to the insiders) in a louder tone: “And all God’s people said…” Wait for it – a boisterous congregation responds with, “Amen!” Have you been there?

I have, and we’ve all probably missed the guest behind us who was jolted by the unanimous thunder around them at that moment. How did they feel? More than likely they felt like an outsider, and it usually gets worse for them throughout the day. I’m not sure where this phrase or the countless other churchy phrases we use come from, but I do know they often alienate us from many guests in our churches.

Insider language creeps up so quickly in churches. We create stylish names for membership classes that don’t communicate what the class is all about or we place cool names on children’s ministry gatherings that always need further explanation. If the church should be the easiest place on the planet to connect with and grow in, then we should make sure we do everything possible to remove insider focused language.

How do you know if you have an insider language problem? Here are three things to consider:

1. You’re always explaining what everything means.
“How do I ________ here at the church?” If you’re always explaining how people can serve or get connected, you may be too insider focused. “What is the __________ all about?” Too many churches and ministries create names for classes and groups that need explaining; names should speak for themselves.

2. You’re not retaining first time guests.
If people feel like an outsider on their first visit, they’re more than likely not going to come back. Believe it or not, most churches don’t have a visitor problem, they have insider problem. When guests feel like they know what’s going on and where things are, they’re more likely to come back a second time.

3. You’re always using acronyms during announcements.
At Christ Fellowship, our favorite financial management and stewardship class is Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey. We never – I mean never – refer to the class as FPU in a public setting. Why? No one knows what FPU stands for, especially guests. Speaking in acronyms is the simplest way to put distance between your church guests.

Our words matter. The Apostle Paul understood the importance of connecting with those outside the faith, just read his words in Acts 17. Every single thing we say during our worship services should connect with all people at every step on their spiritual journey, and communicate that ‘All are Welcome’. Take some time to think critically about what you’re hearing, and not hearing, this week at your church. Host a focus group with new families and ask them about what they experienced. Call several families who visited and never came back, ask them why.

Becoming an outsider focused church takes intentionality, most churches drift towards being insider focused without even knowing it.

Is your ministry insider or outsider focused? I’d love to hear how you stay outsider focused. Comment below.