10 Common Mistakes Church Staff Members Make

staff-mistakes

If you work (or have worked) on a multiple member staff at a local church, you know that it is not always easy to maintain unity and cohesion among the team.  Much of the reason for that are some of these common mistakes made by church staff members.  Browse the list and give yourself a check-up…

1)  Competing with other staff members.

In staff meeting, they look for opportunities to shoot each other down.  They make the mistake of thinking that to make yourself look good, you have to make them look bad.  That’s not a team.

2)  Using “cut-down” humor – in a public setting

Even when it’s truly a joke between staff members, cut-down humor has no place in a public setting.  Those you lead are watching you.  If you don’t honor each other, they won’t honor you either.  Model the behavior you want them to follow.

3)  Using E-mail for conflict resolution

Bad idea.  E-mail doesn’t communicate emotion well (that’s why they invented those stupid emoticons).  When you may have been trying to say something one way, it can come across totally differently.  The best way to apologize or confront an issue is “Face to Face”; then, you can clear up a misunderstanding quickly without losing friendship

4)  Assuming motives of others

Staff members should always give each other the benefit of the doubt.  When someone wrongs you, assume it was an accident unless proven otherwise.  If you are going to assume a motive, assume the BEST motive.  When the youth pastor takes the van when you had it reserved for your event, don’t immediately assume he “didn’t care about my event or think it was important.”  Assume he just forgot to check the calendar.

5)  Being Defensive

Often we are not very receptive to correction or input from other staff members.

6)  Seeing a weakness and not telling them

If done in the spirit of love and teamwork, it’s not “mean” to help other team members succeed by helping them see their weaknesses.  It is actually CRUEL to allow them to continue to sink in leadership because of a glaring weakness you see but refuse to point out.

7)  Not using the strengths of other staff members

When you are weak in an area, ask for help from a fellow staff member who is strong in that area.  The worst thing you could do is try to fix it yourself simply because you are too proud to admit you need help.

8)  Taking another staff member’s side against the senior pastor or other staff members

9)  Over-promising and under-delivering instead of under-promising and over-delivering

It’s great to be willing to help your fellow team members, but promising to do something and not coming through is worse than not being available in the first place

10)  Not taking the cues that it’s the right time to leave

It’s a tough truth, but chances are you won’t serve the church you are currently serving for the rest of your ministry life.  Often one of the biggest mistakes staff members make is staying beyond the time that they should.  How do you know when it is time?  That’s another post altogether (find it right here).

How’d you do?  Have you made some of these mistakes lately?  It’s time to fix it.  Are there other common mistakes that I missed?  Share your thoughts in the comment section.

4 Important Questions To Ask When You Make A Huge Mistake


Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?

 

*  You get caught off-guard by a parent who is upset about an issue regarding their child – you respond in a less-than-professional manner and really let your “humanity” show.

*  You miscalculated the possible attendance to a big event (by over 100) and you don’t have enough food, supplies, or volunteers to pull it off.

*  You left your preparation for Kids Church until Saturday Night, then get hit with an unforeseen emergency.  You end up walking into Kids Church with NOTHING planned – and EVERYONE knows it!

All of us face scenarios like these (if you’ve been in ministry for ANY length of time, that is).  We’re human, and mistakes are a normal part of life.  Ministry (and every other part of life) is packed with difficult choices that require wisdom, and often, we have to face problems we’ve never encountered before.  Mistakes are inevitable—sometimes really big ones!  No matter how hard we try to do things right, the question isn’t “Will I make mistakes?” but “How will I respond to my mistakes?”

A long time ago, I made a commitment to avoid wasting my mistakes because they are some of the best learning opportunities in life.  Whenever I mess up, I try to ask four important questions:

1)  Why did it happen? – Was it a lack of planning, unrealistic expectations, poor communication, wrong motives, unforeseen obstacles, or some other reason?

2)  Was it avoidable?  – Many of our goofs can be avoided with better planning, communication, and execution, but some can’t.

3)  If it could have been avoided, what specifically could I have done to prevent it?

4)  What do I need to know, be, or do to avoid repeating the mistake?

Sometimes this is a process you can do all on your own.  Other times, you may need to bring a trusted outside voice into the situation to help you evaluate and answer these questions.  The number one rule in this process:  DON’T BE DEFENSIVE!  You can’t come to the table with a defensive posture.  If you spend your time defending your motives, your intentions, and your methods – then you defeat the purpose of evaluating.

Instead, be open.  Every mistake is an opportunity to grow.  Learn from them.  That way you don’t ever have to repeat them.  We are going to make mistakes.  Let’s just be determined to make NEW ones – not repeat the old ones.  Learn from your mistakes – and keep growing!!!

How about you?  What do you do in order to help you make sure to learn from your mistakes?  Comment and get in on the conversation!

I write about this subject in much more detail in my book, “I Blew It!”  As part of our “12 Deals Of Christmas” special through High Voltage Kids Ministry Resources, you can get my book for only $5 this week (retail is $14.99)!  CLICK HERE for more info!
book3d

MOMENTUM KILLERS

We all love those moments in ministry when everything seems to be clicking.  The team is rocking, the place is growing, the numbers are climbing, and the morale is as high as its every been.  It’s what many leaders call “The Big MO” – a.k.a. MOMENTUM!

Momentum in ministry should NEVER be taken for granted.  You never know how long it will last.  You want to make the most of it and capitalize on it.  If you aren’t careful, you might lose it.  Here’s a quick hit list of some of the biggest MOMENTUM KILLERS.

1)  PRIDE – There is nothing worse than you starting to believe that the reason for the momentum is YOU.  Although it’s true great momentum can happen when a team is being led by a strong leader, there is not a single leader alive who can bring about momentum for an organization ALONE!  Give God the praise!  Give your team the credit!

2)  CONFLICT AMONG TEAM MEMBERS – With momentum comes growth.  When an organization grows, it’s systems can become stressed and strained as they are pushed to new limits.  This tension can sometimes lead to conflict.  Remember to keep the finger on the pulse of your leaders.  When you sense tension or conflict, remember to resolve it biblically (Matthew 18:15-17).  Do not allow feelings to fester.

3)  LAZINESS – Things come easier when you have momentum.  It’s easy to lay back and let the momentum do the work.  We all have a tendency when things are going great to spend a little less time in planning, vision casting, and organization.  Don’t let it happen!  It will bust your momentum!

4)  SIN IN THE CAMP – Momentum brings growth.  Growth brings more work.  Things get busy and it is easy for our personal prayer and spiritual time to fall to the wayside.  When you allow that to happen, you open the door for temptation.  Nothing will kill momentum like sin in the lives of the leadership team.  Don’t wait until you notice the problem – prevent it.  Make prayer and The Word a #1 non-negotiable priority in your life.

Momentum is a wonderful thing.  It is a precious gift from God.  Don’t squander it.  Be aware of these momentum killers – and guard it safely!

What about you?  Are you aware of other MOMENTUM KILLERS that I didn’t list?  Please share those in the comments section so that the other readers can benefit!

Six Questions To Ask Before Implementing A New Idea (pt. 1)

Sometimes, we overestimate our own creativity and cleverness.  We think we’re so smart that we know exactly what we need to do in a given situation without consulting God or others.  It’s a sad situation that I see repeated over and over in Kids Ministry.

This post will be the beginning of a series of posts dealing with SIX QUESTIONS we must ask ourselves before implementing a new idea.  Often, we can get in such a hurry to implement a “crazy clever” or “amazingly creative” idea that we have for Kids Ministry.  I have had many such ideas end up as disasters (as I am sure many of you have).

I wish I could give you a list of “Ten Ways to Discover God’s Idea for Your Life and Ministry,” but God speaks to different people in different ways.

*  God spoke to Moses through a burning bush.

*  God spoke to Samuel in an audible voice in the middle of the night.

*  God spoke to Joseph in a dream.

*  God spoke to David through the prophet, Nathan.

*  God spoke to Mary through the angel, Gabriel.

God speaks to people when and how He chooses, but I want to give you a series of six questions that can help clarify your thinking.  Ask these questions of yourself BEFORE implementing a new idea in your ministry:

QUESTION #1 –  “Have I prayed about it?”

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” – James 1:5

If the idea you’re chasing came from any source other than a time of prayer, hit your knees immediately and ask, “God, is this your idea for my life and ministry?”

God’s not trying to hide His will from you, and He’s not trying to make you figure it all out on your own.  He wants to give you wisdom and reveal His plan to you.  He wants to give you incredible, amazing, God-inspired ideas.  Pray about it.  Ask Him for wisdom and clarity.  He’ll answer and show you the way.

QUESTION #2 – “What does my pastor think about the idea?”

As early as possible, run your idea by your pastor or kids’ ministry leader to get feedback and input.  Take this step before you invest too much time and energy in your idea.  Your pastor may be aware of liability issues or other reasons why your plan just won’t work. Trust your pastor’s judgment—he’s been down this road before.

Take the initiative to make the appointment with your pastor or ministry leader.  Explain the idea, including the pros and cons. If he approves it, that’s wonderful.  If he finds problems with it, then the conversation will save you a great deal of wasted time and embarrassment.  (I can’t tell you how much my pastor has saved me from all kinds of heartaches.)  And talking with this person before you implement the plan builds trust for the future, too.

(CLICK HERE FOR PART 2)

Making The Most Of Your Mistakes

WEEKLY KIDMIN QUESTION:

“How do you respond when you really blow it?”

I am excited to announce that my brand new book, “I Blew It!” will be released next week (you can pre-order it now by clicking here)!  In this book, I document the BIGGEST mistakes I have made in Kids Ministry and how YOU can avoid them.  Since I started talking about writing the book, many have asked me, “How did you keep from giving up when you made such huge mistakes?” or “How were you able to use your biggest mistakes to move forward instead of backward?”

It’s not an easy process, nor is it one that I learned very easily.  But, over the years I developed a series of questions that I ask anytime I really blow it big-time.  These are questions that might help you through the process of learning from your mistakes:

1)  Why did it happen?  Was it a lack of planning, unrealistic expectations, poor communication, wrong motives, unforeseen obstacles, or some other reason?

2)  Was it avoidable? Many of our goofs can be avoided with better planning, communication, and execution, but some can’t.

3)  If it could have been avoided, what specifically could I have done to prevent it?

4)  What do I need to know, be, or do to avoid repeating the mistake? 

Sometimes this is a process you can do all on your own.  Other times, you may need to bring a trusted outside voice into the situation to help you evaluate and answer these questions.  The number one rule in this process:  DON’T BE DEFENSIVE!  You can’t come to the table with a defensive posture.  If you spend your time defending your motives, your intentions, and your methods – then you defeat the purpose of evaluating.

Instead, be open.  Every mistake is an opportunity to grow.  Learn from them.  That way you don’t ever have to repeat them.  We are going to make mistakes.  Let’s just be determined to make NEW ones – not repeat the old ones.  Learn from your mistakes – and keep growing!!!

How about you?  What do you do in order to help you make sure to learn from your mistakes?  Comment and let us know!

Lessons For Kidmin From The Penn State Child Abuse Debacle

The news from the Penn State scandal has dominated the news cycle for the last week, and it has dominated my thoughts as well.  I couldn’t believe the heinous crime that was perpetrated on young at-risk boys in such a public place for so long.

There are many lessons to learn from this tragedy and it’s aftermath.  We spent a good deal of time in our staff meeting today discussing this.  Here are some of the BIG lessons I believe we in Kids Ministry MUST learn from this:

1)  We must be VIGILANT in protecting His children.

Every child must be vigilantly protected.  We must have policies, processes, and procedures in place that put safety for God’s children at the HIGHEST priority.  Some of the policies we have in place at HVKM are:

*  Six month rule – an adult must have attended our church for a minimum of six months before being allowed to work with minors.  NO exceptions!

* ALL adults must go through a criminal background check process

*  No adult is EVER alone with a minor – not in a car, not in a classroom, not in a hallway, NEVER.  This not only prevents the opportunity for abuse, but also protects the volunteer from false accusation.

2)  When you see abuse taking place – INTERVENE!

It is not enough to just “pass the info up the chain.”  A child is in the act of being harmed, intervene!  Scream, yell, throw something, call the police, draw attention to the area like a crazy person.  Do whatever it takes to cause the abuse to stop.  Then, report it immediately!

3)  Never allow the failure underneath you to remain.

Coach Paterno wasn’t the one who perpetrated the acts, but he was the one who allowed the person who did to stay on his team.  Then, he tried to just ignore the problem and hope it went away.  When a leader allows a member of his/her team to continue in moral failure (of whatever nature) unchecked, then that leader is equally to blame.  It seems easier to just ignore the problem – it never is in the long run.

4)  The truth will always come to light.

The Bible puts it this way, “Be sure your sin will find you out.” – Numbers 32:23

We need to talk with our volunteers about this issue.  Remind them of the importance of protecting all of God’s children.  They are innocent, fragile, and precious!  They are the gifts God has given us the opportunity to serve.  We CANNOT fail them by not protecting them.  We must be VIGILANT!

Let us also pray sincerely for the victims and their families.  Recovery from abuse can be a life-long journey.  God, in His infinite power, can help bring peace and healing to hearts and lives that have been broken by the abuses of others.

For more great info on this subject, see my friend Roger Fields’ post!