No one wants you to tell them their baby is ugly. Even you.
It’s easy to be a critic of everyone else’s work, but what about your own? How can you be sure the efforts and resources you are investing for some expected outcome are actually going to deliver that outcome? And how many times do you invest months of time, effort, energy, and budget dollars only to come out on the other end completed dumbfounded it didn’t work out as intended?
In today’s business climate, you can’t afford to be wrong for very long.
Being data-driven is all the rage. Some would consider it a fad or trend that will pass soon enough. The only problem with that is data is a natural byproduct of how you and I engage with the world. Whether it's as a consumer or business leader, data informs our decisions and captures what we—as well as our constituents—want, desire, or need.
Dashboards and data aren't futuristic aspirations anymore. They are now and have already become part of the normal mode of operations for many in society.
Data visualization empowers every leader to take raw data and use it to inform thinking, strategy, and action. Technology typically takes complex and expensive things and makes them simple and affordable. Moreover, that is exactly the current state of data visualization tools today.
You have no excuse not to be on your journey to proficiency with a data visualization tool. It is really up to you and your willingness to push through the discomfort of learning something new and acquire an essential skill set for successfully leading to a dynamic and iterative business climate.
It was not until I found myself as a member of the management group of a national comprehensive consultancy when I was faced with one of the biggest challenges of my career. I needed to figure out how an underperforming line of business that had been previously acquired could be turned into a growing, healthy revenue-producing unit.
I knew the answer had to be buried in the data. However, how was I supposed to access it? I am not a quantitive analyst or a coder. Even if I could get my hands on the data, how would I process it?
I know what you’re probably thinking: Offering envelopes aren’t exciting. And you might be wondering if anyone still uses them.
The truth is, offering envelopes are an incredibly effective tool to prompt a response from your donors. Don’t believe me? Then why do the largest nonprofits and even direct marketers use envelopes and response cards in their mailbox communications with donors, supporters, clients, and customers? Because they work. It’s the closest tool you can leverage to re-create an in-person ask.
It’s probably been a while since you revisited your offering envelope strategy.
The number of church leaders I engage with who have no process for saying “thank you” to those who contribute to and support local church ministry is shocking to me. I’ve heard just about every reason you can imagine.
But deep within those justifications is the real heart of the matter: Free-will tithes and offerings are quite simply expected of the people in the pew by many of those who stand in the pulpit. Why should you thank someone if you expect them to do it? That assumption is a fundamental obstacle to leaders who wish to create a culture of stewardship and generosity in their congregation.
The New Year is here. Whatever challenges you lamented or victories you celebrated in 2016, you’re beginning again. And that’s exciting!
A new year also ushers in a new ministry budget that must be funded. Depending on where you landed in 2016, you may already feel exhausted from having to start all over again. The good news is, more than $100 billion flows through religious organizations every year. That means there is plenty of money available to fund your ministry vision. The opportunity then is to harness those available dollars for Kingdom things, particularly local church ministry.
If there is one thing this election cycle revealed, it’s that politics will never be the same again. The traditional paths of communication, what it means to be a presidential candidate, and how to win an election have all been redefined. We’ll spend the rest of our lives trying to unpack and understand what just happened.
But pollsters and politicians aren’t the only ones feeling the effects of a shifting climate. Church leaders are feeling it, too, both in the offering plate and the pew. And those changes have tremendous implications on what ministry will look like in the future.
When it comes to giving, generosity, and stewardship, a wide gap remains between the view from the pew and the view from the pulpit. That disconnect has not yet fully translated into a paralyzing funding crisis for most local churches, but given current course and speed, it will if nothing substantive changes.
As I talk to pastors and executive staff members across the country, I hear similar things ...
I had the privilege of meeting Kevin Lee almost one year ago. Vanco Payments had just launched a blog and had reached out for me to provide a few guest posts. That was the first time I had ever heard of Vanco. After a little research, it became clear that Kevin and Vanco were already helping more than 20,000 churches be more generous by providing exceptional digital giving tools.
Vision-driven capital campaigns are all the rage, just like annual pledge drives and “Prove the Tithe” events were a generation ago. But my problem with hanging the success of your next financial campaign on vision alone is that it’s a big gamble. I’m not willing to take it—and neither should you.
I think I understand why the vision conversation feels so comfortable to religious professionals.
If you’ve been a pastor for any length of time, you’ve likely led your church through a capital campaign. It’s a special time filled with excitement, wonder and a world of possibilities. This can be one of the healthiest vehicles for spiritual growth any church can deploy.
When God inspires you to do a Kingdom project, it will always feel bigger and more complex than your current knowledge, resources and congregation’s experience. That’s why a capital project can be a time of tremendous growth.
But There Is Too Much At Stake To Leave It To A Game Of Chance.
Ministry is more than numbers, but numbers indicate the effectiveness of your effort and investments. Your time, energy, staff and money are limited. Therefore, you have to make sure the time, effort, and resources you are investing personally and through your staff are providing a worthy return. I’m not suggesting that “profit” is the goal. But if you can’t connect your effort to measurable impact, you’re risking a very expensive exercise with very little to show for it.
It is vitally important that you and your ministry leaders understand what it will take for you to realize the God-inspired vision you see so clearly now. You can’t just “say something” and expect it to magically come to pass. And don’t think your passion on the platform will instantly overcome the built-in skepticism of the person sitting in the pew.
There is too much at stake.
If you can't answer that question ... neither can the PERSON in the PEW.
That's a BIG problem. And a proven strategy to NOT FUND your organization.
This is your most important asset. Focus on it. Lose sleep over it. Write it over and over until you get it right.
THEN ... practice saying to yourself.
I love talking to church planters. Their dreams are big, their commitment is unwavering, and their courage is remarkable. I’m not sure there is anything harder to do than start a church. I admire church planters for so many reasons.
Any yet, I’m also consistently surprised that few have a comprehensive funding plan or even financial projections. You wouldn’t build a house without first talking to an architect, builder, and banker. You wouldn’t start a business without a clear path to break-even and eventually profitability. And you wouldn’t invest in a company that didn’t have a strategy, action plan, and financial models to ensure your capital is multiplied many times overs.
Endurance in ministry requires more than grit and personal resolve. It must be supported by a documented plan and strategy (which includes financial projections).
Easter is an important time in the Christian church. It is one of two of the most recognized holidays by believers and non-believers alike.
It is also a time when a tremendous amount of people who don’t attend church regularly (or even at all) will walk through the doors of churches all around the world. That means what you do related to giving is worthy of a little thought and planning to ensure you maximize the giving and engagement potential of this medium.
Here are 7 epic fails you should avoid this Easter ...
There are a lot of assumptions leveled from the pulpit to the pew about church giving. One very important one is the ongoing debate around electronic giving and whether or not it has a place in the life of the local church and the discipline of worship and generosity.
Seriously. It’s 2016. Can’t we just agree that e-giving is here to stay?
It is astonishing to me that we are still talking about why “we should” or “should not” offer e-giving options to church members and visitors who would like to financially contribute to the work and ministry of a particular local church. Yet that very conversation is still alive and well in many churches today.
Not that "F" word!
That's another post for another time. I'm talking about F-O-C-U-S in your content and messaging strategy. The ability to stay on target until you determine the campaign is a horrible failure or a raging success.
Too many give up before they give an idea the chance to succeed.
Brand Journalism is a vehicle to let your biggest fans talk about the impact you've had on their business, brand, or cause. And it spreads that message through one of the oldest forms of communication ... storytelling. Too many times we undervalue what can be transferred between people when the message is couched inside a story.
Stories still matter. No matter what you're selling.
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to write a book about incredible people doing amazing things.