Build Church: Keep It Simple

As humans we can have a tendency to over-complicate things. We fill our lives to the brim with so much stuff and then get frustrated when we don’t see the kind of growth, change or difference we are supposedly striving for. Or is it just me?

In my last post I talked about being out of whack. Clutter and disorganisation can do that to you. The key is to KEEP IT SIMPLE.

Now I realise this is not everyones strength but it is everyones need. The most disorganised of people will have others around them whose only purpose is to help them to be organised. This means they can keep their focus on their primary role. All of which hopefully leads to the success we desire. John Maxwell encourages us to organise or agonise. There is nothing more powerful in keeping things simple than to be better organised.

As it is for me personally in my desire to build a better life, to become a bigger person, so it is when it comes to building church. KEEP IT SIMPLE. Clear. Clutter-free. Clarified. Better organised. Get a clear view. Help people to be better placed to help build all that God wants to accomplish in their own lives and in the church they are a part of.

Clear out the clutter. Be willing to ask the BIG questions. Be willing to be honest and maybe remove some stuff from the diary. Don’t let what we say from the front be in competition with what people are actually having to juggle with throughout the week. Help create the space for organic-style connection and friendships to flourish.

Clear the communication lines. Make it as easy as possible for people to know what’s happening, and maybe more importantly, why it’s happening. Make it simple for everyone to know who we are, what we are about and how we are going to go about it.

Clear the line of sight. Make the vision obvious and easy to explain. We do this by clearing away the clutter which creates confusion and by clearing the communication lines too so people know what we are focused on right now.

Clear culture. Possibly most important of all. We may thing we are one thing when people’s own experience would cause them to define it differently. If culture trumps everything then keeping this simple, organised and well-defined is essential.

These are just my thoughts. As a team we are always working on these, doing our best to set others up for a win, so they are better placed, resourced and able to play their part in what God is doing in them and through them, in all their different spheres of influence. How do you keep things simple in your life?

Lead Well: Good Company

We know this is true ~ who you hang around with shapes you. The right people in your life with the right words at the right time can make the right kind of difference.

Good company is different to hanging out your ‘friends’ after work for a drink. These are the friendships which go beneath the surface. More than a like on social media, these are the ones who show up when you really need them.

Good company is people who encourage, support, pray for and speak life over you. It is the ones who come alongside through the toughness, not necessarily to try and fix you but to simply sit in silence with you. It is the ones who don’t mock your grand ideas. Or let you get away with not chasing after those same ideas. Good company is saying more than ‘do what you feel’ or nothing at all. It is bringing words of comfort and a good old fashioned shove when you need it too.

This kind of good company can take a lifetime to flourish. This kind of good company is not broken easily. Fox-hole friendships. Grown through experience and season.

Good company may only be one or two and to be honest, when the good company is like this, then one or two are more than enough. Find them. Appreciate them.

Who is your good company?

With no good company the alternative is bad. This kind of company can say the same kind of words but with different motives, which leads to very different kinds of outcomes.  This kind of company isn’t thinking of you, it is thinking about itself.

Bad company corrupts, leads astray, doesn’t pray. It is well-meaning, yet not life-giving. It is surface friendship. Not encouraging, supportive or God-focused.

A well-meaning ‘whatever’, may be meant as support to your grand ideas but it isn’t really.  This kind of company are unreliable, not inconvenienced and unprepared to sit alongside. This is not a fox-hole friend, more like a ‘pity-party’ companion. It is those who love to talk about themselves, so they are encouraged.

Bad company may only be one or two, and to be honest, when the bad company is like this, then one or two are more than enough. Beware.

Who are your bad company?

People are important. This is not an instruction to get rid of all your friends. This is more a reminder about the value of great friends and knowing the difference. We can have lots of good people in our world and that’s alright. This doesn’t mean every word they share has to be acted upon. Find the better friends for the life-changing conversations. Those who share the same values for living as you, the same faith as you and the same God at the centre of all that they do.

What are your thoughts on this topic?

Chew The Fat

I am of the opinion that everyone needs someone in their world with whom they can chew the fat. And let’s just clarify, I don’t mean gossip or banter. That doesn’t benefit anyone. I don’t just mean agreement either. I think we need more than that.

This is purposeful conversation but without agenda. This is the exchange of thoughts and ideas but without an overly critical opinion. This is the sharing of life stories in a relaxed, honest, open and transparent way.

Yesterday was such a day for me. Coffee with a friend while chatting around ‘stuff’. It was encouraging, refreshing and enlightening. Most importantly, I felt good (lifted even) when I left. Ideas were thought of and others were supported.

A non-agenda friendship. Sounds really boring when you put it like that but that’s what it is. There were no leading statements. No ‘big’ asks. It was natural. It was good fun. It made my soul healthier.

What makes such a person? For me it’s not the years we have known each other, it’s the heart. The shared values. The shared journey. Having the best in mind for one another. Add to that, there is discretion and an encouraging voice. Honestly, even though we didn’t talk about some things I came away with a clearer view on them.

You don’t need many, just one or two may be enough. So, ask yourself if you have one? If not, if I were you, I would go and find one.

Family & Friends

This is the beauty of church. It becomes your family and your friends.

I listened to a story yesterday from someone that was basically an advert for the benefits of being part of Gods family and His church. When life brings it’s twists and turns and you end up in a place thinking how did I get here, that’s when the incredible mix of your church friends and family really play their part.

Encouragement.

Prayer.

Comfort.

Support.

Providing.

Empathy.

Challenge.

Don’t hear what I’m not saying –  I love my natural family but they don’t live close by. So when trouble comes or situations need to be navigated then obviously I let them know what’s happening, yet it’s often my church family that can actually come alongside me. I hope you get what I mean. I pray that you have that for yourself and I thank God for my incredible extended friends and family from Xcel Church. Thank you for being there for me.

The Test of Time

Sometimes it’s hard to put into words what you are thinking. In my journey of walking with God I thought about three tests that we maybe have to successfully navigate – the divine test, the sacrifice test and the test of time.

It is often said that it’s not how you start but how you finish that really counts. I think there may be some truth in that when it comes to our walk with God. His desires is for us to walk with Him ALL the days of our lives not just some.

He loves us unconditionally, just a I do as dad with my girls. I also think, that just like me as a dad who loves it when my girls want to hang out with me, walk with me and enjoy my company, God feels the same. He loves it when we begin walking with Him and He loves it when we continue to choose to walk with Him.

When reading the Bible it’s easy to see many who start well but finish poorly. Abraham is one of the few who started and finished well. He demonstrates that great relationships, like that between him and God, stand the test of time and are the better for it.

For those who finished badly, maybe time created space for distractions. The day in, day out aspect of keeping the principles God became less important, in contrast to their own ideas of what would be best. Time with God alone seemed to satisfy less. Personally, I don’t want that to happen.

I look at my relationships, some have been friends for over 20 years and I see that the test of time is passed by allowing time to work in our favour. Time can bring strength to relationships that other things cannot.

Time creates shared experiences, a lifetime of memories. We have moved on from simple conversations to knowing one another instinctively.

Time can smooth out the rough edges. Acquiring an understanding of what makes us each other tick, our unique personalities, means we know sometimes we will get it wrong and that’s alright. Time isn’t just a healer for us, instead, it has given us permission to be who we really are with those closest to us.

Time builds connections between people that are hard to break. We are loyal, we love each other, not in a soppy way but with a strength that comes from a trust only earned and nurtured over time. Newcomers find that hard to compete with but it can’t be helped. However, the good thing is, it means we will probably demonstrate the same qualities with others too.

Whether with God or with friends, the test of time cannot be avoided. Best just decide to make the most of it, work hard and build a relationship with both God and man that will bless all involved.

It’s About People [19.2]

Leadership is about people.

After keeping my trust in God strong, one thing kept me going. People. I was at University in Sheffield at the time and the church I was part of wasn’t large but it had a good bunch of young adults in it and we all shared the same passion for wanting to serve. None of us really knew what we were doing but we had a willingness to give it a go. We would succeed and fail together.

I am thankful that we had each other.  For the sense of team and camaraderie. Even more than that, I was thankful for the friendships. We had fun. We had a laugh. We did life together. We supported one another, prayed for one another, encouraged each other. We fought for each other too.

As a group of friends we also had the investment from a couple in the church who not only encouraged us, but opened up their home to us, helped us in our thinking, prayed with us, believed in our ability to make a difference.

Looking back, their trust in us was pretty amazing. I think I spent as much time with them as I did getting my Uni work completed (maybe more sometimes). I have an immense sense of gratitude for the investment from Kevin & Tina. They took a punt on a bunch of young leaders and that’s a challenge to me right now to be doing the same.

Having the right kind of people around me kept me on the leadership journey. Despite my best efforts to sabotage my leadership with some choices that are best left unmentioned, having the right voices speaking into my life was invaluable.

I was regularly challenged to give things a go.
I was being confronted about lifestyle choices.
I was beginning to change into the person God needed me to become.
I was developing the character of a leader.

I have definitely learned that the following is very true…
Leadership is about people.
The people you lead.
The people you lead with.
The people who lead you.

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Who are the people that you are thankful for? 
Those who have challenged and confronted you, brought about change and developed the right kind of leadership character in you?

Check out Leadership Steps [19.1]