Lies, Damned Lies & Statistics [Exec Pastor Blog]

Ok. So this is a curious title. It is a well known phrase that describes the persuasive power of numbers, especially to prove certain things. We are not about that but in our weekly meeting tomorrow we are talking numbers. They are not our primary driver, but they are important. 

Nobody wants to think that we don’t care about the finances. We track the income and expenditure – you would expect that. 

Yet counting people and tracking numbers when it comes to people can often offend people. I think that’s because we don’t understand their importance….

We count people because people count. It is a cliche statement but it doesn’t make it any less true. 

We need to know if we are reaching people. The great commission is about making disciples, so the right and difficult question is ‘are we?’ Numbers can help us in that

We can feel like things are going well but the numbers rarely lie. We can always choose the right ‘period of time’ to make us look good. Neither are acceptable. Get the figures in front of you and be honest about what they tell you. 

We don’t substitute faith for numbers. We are still a faith church. We are still trusting God for the future. We pray like it depends on God. Yet we still work hard and make sure that what we are putting our energy and resources towards is actually making a difference. 

So today on my first day back I gathered those figures together ready for discussion in the morning. I can’t share the stats but I can say this…things are healthy. 

Leaders Pay Attention to Detail

Having an eye for the detail is about caring enough as a leader that what we want to see happen is actually happening.

It’s not about micro-managing but it is about asking some critical questions. After all, leaders lead. Questions that will help us move forward, improve, and hopefully bring the success we desire. To not care about the detail is to not care about the vision.

  • Are we ready?
  • Do we have everything prepared that we said would be prepared?
  • Practicals?
  • Teams?
  • Do people know what they should be doing?
  • More importantly, do they know why they have been asked to do it?
  • Are we ready for the unexpected?
  • Have we missed anything?

As leaders in Xcel we meet every week and ask questions like this. We are passionate about making sure that what we say we are as a Church is actually the experience people get when they come to Church. It’s not coming from a position of criticism but instead from a place of understanding that the experience someone has will impact their willingness to return, which ultimately affects their relationship with God.

The stakes are high, so we want the welcome, the worship, the word, the atmosphere, the connections, the teams, everything to be done well. We are not looking for perfection, but being excellent with what we have, doing all we can to move people on in their journey with God and with others.

Check out some posts I wrote a few years ago on this topic: The Detail Test, Detail Test 2, Detail Requires Time, Detail Brings Reward, Where Are You on The Detail Test

7 Things Leaders Have to Think About

This reads simpler than it actually is.

1. What the preferred future looks like

2. The detail of that preferred future

3. The strategy required to move towards that preferred future

4. The leaders who will own the strategy that moves us towards that preferred future

5. The teams that the leaders will grow who can work together with the strategy that moves us toward the preferred future

6. The resources that those leaders require to give their teams, equipping them so they are more capable of achieving the strategy that can move us towards the preferred future

7. Are we on track in all that we are doing in respect of the preferred future we have seen?

Would you agree? Or would you change the things you think leaders have to think about?

How to Keep IT Fresh

We might have IT.
We work very hard to make sure we do have IT.
We certainly don’t want to lose IT.

That’s a challenge. Xcel Darlington is going great and keeping it fresh will help to keep us from losing IT. Nothing major, we will still have great worship from the team, we will still have great word from a variety of speakers and we will still work hard to connect people and help everyone feel at home.

Today was great but to push through and see us grow to over 100 in the next few weeks, we need to get creative, pack people in, become experts at bringing and take responsibility for playing our part – just gonna freshen things up a bit, move things about, mess with the teams, do church a little differently!!

What do you think?
Are you willing to change?
Are you willing to mix it up for the sake of the cause?
Hope so!

Don’t Lose IT!!

In his book IT, Craig Groeschel talks about how people can lose IT. He states that it’s normally through getting comfortable in your relationship with God that the problems start – he says the big culprits are laziness, complacency and distraction. These are the challenges of living in the world. The answer is being strong in your daily disciplines, keeping the main thing the main thing.

Here are some things that I am discovering as I continue on my journey as a Pastor…

I don’t want to lose IT. Thinking about this always reminds me of the scripture where Paul writes that all things are lawful but not all things are helpful. In my opinion this is a good check for me.

The disciplines for keeping IT are not easy. Every day I have an opportunity to get distracted from the purpose that I believe God has for my life by spending too much time on other stuff – they are not wrong but they are not always helpful for my destiny.

God keeps giving me a friendly reminder that what ever I do as a Pastor it probably will never happen unless I keep praying, keep reading and keep believing God for it. I’m a great believer that you need to be passionate about it enough to get on your knees for it. I can talk a good game but what about what I do in private!!

I choose to follow IT. Every day when the alarm goes off I know that I don’t have a choice. The new day ahead, I have already determined that the most important thing I must do is to get up and pray. It is part of my non-negotiables now. Staying in bed is not wrong – in fact it seems to be the most beautiful thing in the world some mornings but I know praying is worth the sacrifice.

Lifestyle habits shape what IT looks like to others.
If I am to be a model of what a Christian is then my habits are important. The shape of my life shapes their view of God. My lifestyle habits then are reflective of how I want God to be seen. John Maxwell says that ‘Leaders give up to go up’. Some are not willing to rise to that challenge and maintain that they can have rights and responsibility. I don’t think it works like that.

I am learning to warn others if I think they are losing IT
People do drift from their true north, the ultimate cause of living for Jesus by convincing themselves that their lifestyle is acceptable when they probably know its not really. Why do good Christians get wrapped up in their own world and compromise so easily? Big letters coming up: ITS NOT ABOUT US!

For example (an I know this might raise a few comments) getting drunk is NOT okay…and some of you are. Feel like Paul writing to the Church at Ephesus saying ‘Don’t get drunk with wine (or other stuff); but be filled with the Holy Spirit’. Don’t allow yourselves to take second best.

[Am I being too hard? What are your views on this? Have you lost IT? Have you got IT back?]

Where Are You on the Detail Test

In my role as a leadership coach and learning mentor it will be wrong of me to not assess where our level of achievement is in relation to detail…

[ The Detail Test]
[ Questions ]

1. Are you a detail person or a big picture person?

2. What is you normal reaction to others who miss out some details when they have completed a task for you?

3. What are the dangers as a leader of only ever being concerned with the big picture?

4. Think of a project or task you are currently involved with – what has your approach been towards this task?

5. What are the details you should be taking more care of?

Let me know what you think of the last few posts.

Detail Brings Rewards

You must have a reason for spending all this time working on the detail aspect of a project. Otherwise – what’s the point!? Think about these two rewards and see if you agree…

Detail brings rewards to you now.
It leads to the completion of your vision, due to that fact that those following you have a clear marked out track on which to run. Both you and your team know the final result that is expected; this kind of synergy has the potential to produce great success.

Winston Churchill understood the power of detail. His convictions led to great honesty as he admitted the bleak reality of the situation facing Britain. The nation ‘stood alone’ without substantial allies. However, his eye for detail enabled him to build a great defence. He knew exactly what was required and he took action and led an entire nation to victory.

It brings rewards seen beyond your own lifetime.
“It would be impossible for any craftsman or sculptor no matter how brilliant ever to surpass the grace and design of this work, or try to cut and polish marble with the skill that Michelangelo displayed. For the Pieta was a revelation of all the possibilities and force of the art of sculpture. Among the many beautiful features is notably demonstrated by the body of Christ itself. It would be impossible to find a body showing greater mastery of art and possessing more beautiful members, or a nude with more detail in muscles, veins and nerves stretched over their framework of bones, or a more deathly corpse. The lovely expression of the head, the harmony in the joints and attachments of the arms, legs, and trunk, and the fine tracery of the veins are all so wonderful that it is hard to believe that the hand of an artist could have executed this inspired and admirable work so perfectly and in so short a time. It is certainly a miracle that a formless block of stone could ever have been reduced to a perfection that nature is scarcely able to create in the flesh”

Michelangelo had an eye for detail. It drove him to create some of the most beautiful artwork man has ever seen. Detail is lost on some people, but Michelangelo noticed even the smallest incorrect brushstroke. He could have ignored the detail, but anything less than his best was just not good enough in his eyes. It’s this painstaking process that earned him the right to have his artwork labelled ‘masterpieces.’ We can be sure that we would not view the artwork or the artist in the same light if that attention to detail had been lacking. The reward of fame has extended far beyond Michelangelo’s life, and is certain to extend far beyond our own.

However, this drive for detail created a constant feeling of dissatisfaction within Michelangelo; a feeling that resulted in the deterioration of his mental health, eventually leading to his insanity.

Don’t let the detail drive you to overwork yourself. If you do the pressure will squeeze all of the fun out of the journey and inevitably crush the enthusiasm of those following you.

As leaders we need to be determined to be the best leaders that we can be. Does that mean we can ignore the detail test? Can we still be a leader and get away with not making sure that the detail is taken care of?

It brings rewards to you now. It aids the completion of the vision as those who follow you have a clear, detailed track on which to run. You know what is wanted, your team knows and such synergy has the capability to bring about success.
Winston Churchill understood the power of details. You cannot hide from them but through openness and great vulnerability he admitted the reality of the situation Britain faced. The nation ‘stood alone’ without substantial allies but, with an eye on the detail of what was required Churchill rallied a nation and brought about a great victory.

It brings rewards seen beyond your own lifetime. “It would be impossible for any craftsman or sculptor no matter how brilliant ever to surpass the grace and design of this work, or try to cut and polish marble with the skill that Michelangelo displayed. For the Pieta was a revelation of all the possibilities and force of the art of sculpture. Among the many beautiful features is notably demonstrated by the body of Christ itself. It would be impossible to find a body showing greater mastery of art and possessing more beautiful members, or a nude with more detail in muscles, veins and nerves stretched over their framework of bones, or a more deathly corpse. The lovely expression of the head, the harmony in the joints and attachments of the arms, legs, and trunk, and the fine tracery of the veins are all so wonderful that it is hard to believe that the hand of an artist could have executed this inspired and admirable work so perfectly and in so short a time. It is certainly a miracle that a formless block of stone could ever have been reduced to a perfection that nature is scarcely able to create in the flesh”

Michelanglo had an eye for detail which drove him to create some of the most beautiful pieces of art man has ever seen. Detail can be lost on some people but to Michelangelo, he knew when it wasn’t right and we would not view him in the same light if the detail had not been there. The reward has outlived him and will outlive us as well.

It created an unsatisfied feeling within him and so it should be with you as a leader. Do not let the detail drive you to work too hard and suck all the fun out of the journey, killing off the enthusiasm of you team. That’s what led Michelangelo to insanity.

Just determine that you will be the best leader you can be and make sure it is taken care of.

Detail Requires Time

People complain that we don’t have enough of it, that time is moving too fast, that it is our greatest enemy ‘time is against me’ – I can hear myself saying it in the past.

To be a great leader demands that you harness the power of your time. Time doesn’t move too fast, maybe we move to slow! When it comes to the detail of a project the leader needs to find the balance between spending too much time in the thinking process or not enough. If you pursue perfection and ALL the answers you will probably never be satisfied and achieve very little. If you keep giving yourself or the project or the team more time, then the likelihood is you will never be ready.

Having said that, the lack of detail is the failure of many a would-be leader. It demonstrates an unwillingness to invest the time element into the vision.

Whitewashing a wall is a quick and easy job, but painting a masterpiece is never going to be a “one nighter.” Take time becoming the best leader you can be. Avoid haste. Rushing a job can produce poor or, at worst, completely the wrong results. Never allow yourself to be rushed into doing something when you’re not ready. As a leader, it’s your job to be proactive and set timescales. Don’t be a leader who wastes energy on reacting to difficulties and obstacles in life, conserve that energy and channel it into something constructive.

Harness time, make it work for you. If you can do this successfully then you are setting yourself up for a great leadership journey.