What to Stop and Start in 2012

by Lance Whitt

Stop ignoring the dysfunction

Many churches and ministries suffer from I like to call “terminal niceness”.   We just aren’t very good at hard conversations.  For the most part we are polite, sensitive, and hate conflict.  So, we beat around the bush and make nice.

One of the byproducts of our “terminal niceness” can be dysfunction at the team level.  As a leader you can’t afford to stick your head in the sand.  Turn on your “team health” radar and aggressively seek out the truth… even if it is hard to face.  There is too much at stake for you to live in denial.

You might not see it (blind spot), but if the dysfunction is there, I promise you that the people on your team see it.

In his great book It’s Your Ship, Michael Abrashoff says “your people have more perceptive than you give them credit for, and they always know the score—even when you don’t want them to.”

So, where do you start?

ASK…. and then LISTEN (without getting defensive)

If this isn’t part of your culture, it may take some time before people really believe you that it’s safe to give honest feedback.

Here are a few questions to get you started…

  • When it comes to how we do team, what’s not working?
  • How could our team be healthier?
  • In your opinion, what could take us from a good team to a great team?
  • What one thing, if we actually did it, would help us be a better team?
  • What are you concerned about with our team?

Start Practicing Sabbath

If you live better you will lead better.  And, part of living better is learning to live a life of rhythm.  We live in a universe defined by rhythm:

  • Breathing
  • Heartbeat
  • Ocean tide
  • Seasons
  • Sunsets
  • Music
  • Farming

And WE were made to live in rhythm as well.  When we ignore a healthy rhythm of life, we do violence to our body, soul, relationships, health, emotions and relationship to God.

Noah BenShea wrote, “It’s the space between the notes that makes the music.” The same is true of life. We must have space between the notes (rhythm) to make life work as God designed it.  God’s strategy for helping us live in rhythm is a practice called Sabbath.

Almost everything about life and ministry in the 21st century is unfriendly to a healthy rhythm of life.  The demands and problems and opportunities are limitless. There is always more to do.

For years I lived in denial believing that life and ministry would slow down.  “After we get through this building campaign, or this Easter, or this staff retreat, it will get better.”  But it never did.

So, at the start of this new year, take responsibility for your own rhythm of life.  No one else will do it for you.  Have the conversation with your spouse… get out your calendar and start scheduling a weekly Sabbath.  You and all the people who know you will be glad you did.

Lance Witt is the founder of Replenish Ministries, an organization devoted to ministering pastors to help them become healthy, holy, and humble. He also serves as the Pastor for Strategic Development at Thomas Road Church in Lynchburg, Virginia. replenish.net

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4 Responses to What to Stop and Start in 2012

  1. jeff says:

    we started LG (SMALL GROUP) long time ago in our church. Our church is VERY conservative and tradionational, and always hard to introduce or do something New.
    But we knew that the way to reach our community would be in the area of LG.

  2. Mike Mack says:

    Thanks for the encouragement, Lance. I happen to be taking a vacation day (left over from 2011) after a couple very busy weeks preparing for a small group launch campaign. It’s really good to kick my feet back and do some reading. This is a huge secret to being a healthy leader of anything.

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