The Productive Pastor

Do you struggle with how to contact, assimilate and lead visitors into part of your church? This episode is ALL ABOUT building guest systems in your church. I sit down with my friend Rev. Allison Sauls. Allison isn't a normal guest, but she leads Foundry with me! We break down the systems we have built over the last 9 months in starting a new church and the lessons we have learned.

Front Matter

From the Vault:
Building a Priority Based Schedule| Episode 3

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JD Walt and Sabbath | Episode 5

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Giving Rocket: Get ready for their 50% off sale THIS MAY. Trust me. This is one of the best resources and coaching products I have ever purchased.

 

Build Guest Systems

The Benefit of Systems
Systems are a repeatable progression of tasks. It's all about a mindset.

Episode 19: Michael Lukaszewski on Systems

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Assimilation Systems

Our larger framework is based all around collecting guest information. We do this in two ways.

  1. We have a great connection card. This is the only handout we ever give people. Connection Card Back Connection Card Front (Download links)
  2. We can collect families names based off of kids check-in. This is an amazing tool most folks don't utilize.
  3. We give away a tumblr/mug. It depends on the season, but folks absolutely love getting a gift like this.

Check out my post on using Trello to streamlining Church Assimilation with Trello for more details.

Email Systems

We use aweber.com. I love it. To use an email system, you have to have a paid account somewhere. Mailchimp charges a few dollars for this, but I have been using aweber for a pretty long time and I'm familiar with it. One of the best explanations of using an email series for guest systems is from Bobby Williams. He was a guest on Rich Birch's Unsemianry podcast and explained how his church used them.

Facebook Systems

I've outlined my strategy for using Facebook lists and leveraging them for ministry here.

1st time Giving

I'm a big fan of The Rocket Company's What Happens When You Give booklet. You can purchase it here.

Direct download: PP49_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:33pm CDT

In this episode of The Productive Pastor we talk about having a proactive vs. reactive strategy for ministry. One of the dangers of a non-strategic approach to ministry is simply spending all day reacting to emergencies, facilities, office issues and a multiplicity of other things (much less the actual work of ministry, which is about response).

Front Matter

Trello Week

  1. Productive Pastor 46 | Organizing Ministry with Trello
  2. Why You Need To Build a Trello Reading List (and how to do it). 
  3. Streamlining Church Assimilation with Trello. 
  4. Creating a Collaborative Sermonflow.

iTunes Review and Ratings

Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 4.58.15 PM

Proactive vs. Reactive Ministry

Beginning to plan ministry in a proactive way is all about a mind shift. We individually decide to lead and pastor from a proactive point of view. We don't do this to get out of reactive situation, but to allow ourselves the absolute amount of margin we need for when we DO need to react to emergency situations. This point of view is the biggest difference (I feel) between healthy, vital ministries and struggling and declining churches. If you feel you can necessarily lead others proactively right now, begin leading yourself proactively.

I constantly ask myself if I am leading from a proactive or a reactive position. Understanding this proactive vs. reactive shift is tremendously important and one of the key tasks I am always checking myself for.

What does this change?

  • simply waiting for ministry to happen
  • always running ragged
  • not having the ability to think ahead

What do we learn?

  • We learn to prioritize
  • We learn to build a schedule

Eugene Peterson, The Pastor. (amazon link)
The Importance of Scheduling (productivitist)

How to we begin a proactive ministry

  • We make the decision
  • We begin the process of goal scheduling
  • We schedule time for forward momentum

I hope this episode has been helpful. Make sure to interact on social at @revchadbrooks and use the hashtag #productivepastor.

Direct download: PP47_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am CDT

Over the last 6 months I have finally found the project management tool I've been looking for for YEARS! Trello is perfect for ministry.

I was looking for a project management solution that could accomplish these tasks and requirements.

  • Worked well for visual thinkers
  • Free (or low cost)
  • allowed for multiple users (high degree of collaboration)
  • easy to move items around
  • crazy flexible
  • high degree of "hackability"

After doing some research (and seeing some instagram posts), I realized Trello was probably the perfect tool for mine and my teams needs. 

Organizing Ministry with Trello

I am currently using Trello for many tasks. Here is a breakdown of 4 of them. 

Sermon Series Preparation
Every sermon series at our church has a Trello board. We use the "copy board" feature as a template and start with a standing key of questions. Using Trello in this manner, our entire team has a map of where the sermon preparation is at, language we can use for other ministries and the different passages the preacher is choosing to use. I attach my own research note from Evernote in an individual card if someone wants to see more information. 

New Member Assimilation
At Foundry, we struggled to keep track of multiple 1st, 2nd and continuing guests. We built an intentional contact system, but struggled to implement it without access to a church database. After seeing another church utilize Trello for assimilation, we built the perfect system for Foundry. It utilizes a checklist feature available in Trello (so we are constantly re-making the checklist). Because cards are moveable, when someone has attended the 2nd time...they get moved into the 2nd time column. We then are able to consistently move folks through our system and stay in great communication with them. 

Master Calendar
We didn't want to keep a gigantic (and public) master calendar. Instead, each month has a column in Trello and each even it's own card. We are then able subscribe in iCal or Outlook to have each event inside our personal calendars. 

Social Media Schedule
I used to keep a paper social calendar, but Trello provides a great way to allow multiple people to work on the same schedule. 

 

Direct download: PP46_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:33pm CDT

Do you use Evernote? If you don't, this episode is all about maximizing ministry with Evernote.

It's no secret how much I think Evernote is a crucial ministry tool. I have spoke about it quite often, but have never devoted a full episode to this AMAZING app.

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Maximizing Ministry With Evernote

Starting Evernote

The first suggestion I always make is to download the (free) desktop Evernote app. This makes it substantially easier to use. Then, get your evernote email address and find a clipper app for your browser. This biggest secret is to simply USE Evernote.

How I use Evernote
I am dropping information into Evernote constantly.

  • If I need to remember more than 1 time.
  • I save .pdf's and pictures
  • checklists and templates
  • long range documents

5 Ways to use Evernote for maximizing ministry.

  1. Staff Meetings
    I set up a note with the word "staff meeting" and the date in the title. I then take notes as normal. Whatever I need to drop into the note I can, urls, documents or just notes. 
  2. Sermon Planning
    This is where I get ALL UP IN Evernote. I start a notebook with the sermon series. Every sermon gets a note and then there is a random catchall for the series. I am constantly dropping things in these folders. It helps me built up a cohesive library for my preaching.
  3. One on Ones
    They can be discipleship meetings or meetings with staff. I simply use the persons name as a note and date it. Whatever I need to make note of, to remember or refer back to...it's there.
  4. Reading Notes
    I did an entire episode (26) about how I keep my reading notes. I take some time after I've finished a book to enter my notes. There is also a way to get kindle highlights into Evernote. 
  5. Group Documents
    I know other people use google docs for this sort of work, but Evernote works better for me BECAUSE YOU CAN SEARCH IT. Sorry for the screaming. But it has saved my neck more times than I can imagine. 
Direct download: pp45.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:36pm CDT

I am a HUGE notebook fan. This shouldn't be a secret to my friends and regular listeners. If you want to keep up more with my notebookery...you can get a glimpse at instagram.com/revchadbrooks. So in this episode I am going to be sharing with you WHY you need to be keeping a notebook, some of the reasons I do and how you can set up your notebook as a modular time/project tracker.

First-I want to thank Brett Byford for his awesome review/rating in iTunes.

 

 

 

Why You Need To Keep A Notebook

My notebook journey has been wild. It all started out with my trying to keep up with life and ministry. I have gone through plenty of different types of notebooks. Here are some of my favorites.

Moleskine (amazon link)
Like many people, Moleskine provided the entry point into keeping a notebook. I used their paperback versions and the soft covers for years. Ultimately, they fell apart quicker than I could use them.

Rhodia (amazon link)
Rhodia makes some great notebooks. The paper is excellent and they have around 59,987 sizes. I use them for quick jots around the house and for sketching out larger things. I don't keep up with them afterwards, just tear the sheets out and throw them away.

Muji (amazon link)
I use this specific size and paper type. They make other options, this is what works for me.

I'm also a big fan of Field Notes Brand, Seedthoughts from Seedbed and Leuchtturm1917.

Why keep a notebook?

  • to capture information
  • you can build a blank slate for your day and calendar
  • keeps information in front of you
  • keeps you present (be THE PERSON who is always taking notes! Trust me on this one).

Here is my blank notebook page.

File Feb 14, 6 38 23 PM

Related Links:

Why I Keep A Prayer Notebook
Why Pastors Need to be (Information) Hoarders. 

 

Direct download: pp44_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:45pm CDT

Welcome back to the Productive Pastor. We have a great episode in store for you today.

Have you ever found yourself in a hole or a slump? The good news is digging yourself out of a hole is easier than you think. It's about awareness and  intentionality. We are going to dive headfirst into the issue and hopefully finish standing on solid ground.

 

Digging Yourself Out Of A Hole

Confront the Spiritual Issue.
The more I think about anxiety, fear, procrastination and depression...the more I see a link between our schedules and our spiritual life. When we get into a shaky place, we lose our sense of purpose and our understanding of call. Sit down, hit up some prayer and begin discerning what the bigger issues are that brought you to this place.

G.T.D Bankruptcy. 
I am a big fan of David Allen's classic Getting Things Done. You might say it started it all! David Allen talks about taking a schedule bankruptcy. This is when you mark off a day or so and just build an account of everything that is outstanding. Once you are aware...pick the things you can just throw away and quit worrying about. Chances are, the damage is already done from putting it off.

Organize Top Priorities
What are the things you absolutely need to get in place in order to dig yourself out of a hole?

  • Are you about to get fired or lose major influence?
    Not really (maybe really?). What are the bottlenecks that are causing the anxiety. It can be a major project or just something you have been putting off. You need to get these done. Line out the projects and attack them.Related Episode: How To Destroy a Massive To Do List

  • What are the regular things that need to happen?
    Regular, repeating tasks are key. They make you feel great to get checked off. I utilize a template system in Evernote to organize my repeating tasks.Related Episode: Up Your Productivity With Templates

  • Fill in what's restful. Don't discount the necessity to take rest in order to refuel and replenish yourself. You absolutely need to be doing these things.

Preventative Care

  • Pomodoro-I use the Tomato Timer web app.
  • Strategically plan your week.
  • Learn to know what matters most.
Direct download: PP43_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:02pm CDT

This episode I sit down my friend Isaac Hopper and we have a conversation about productivity AND parenting. Tons of listeners have asked for a conversation like this. Isaac is a United Methodist Pastor who leads a church, leads a family and is finishing a PhD in England while living in Indiana. I would say Isaac has practical productivity down. 

Isaac and I talk about a few things such as; learning productivity, how to office from home and what it means to be present with your family and lead them well. 

Isaac writes at isaachopper.com. His recent posts mentioned are;

Ministry Blogs and Podcasts You Should Follow
Why I Hired a Clergy Coach

Direct download: PP42_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:24am CDT

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Productive Pastor!

In this vacation-centric episode, I share about the differences between relaxing and replenishing and why we need to build then into our schedules.

Front Matter:

Top 5 Downloaded Episodes.
These are the 5 most downloaded episodes of The Productive Pastor. Some might surprise you...but these are the episodes folks found the most value in.

Productive Pastor Preaching Playlist
Try to say that fast 5 times! Here are all of the Productive Pastor episodes on preaching. This playlist function lets you have all of them grouped in the same place.

Art of the Sermon Podcast
My friend Dan Wunderlich produces and hosts this amazing show. He is only 6 episodes in, so you can get caught up quickly. Dan also mentions the Pulpit Fiction podcast, it's on my podcast app for a few listens this week.

Relaxing Vs. Replenishing

Over the last few months I have been asking myself serious questions about what is relaxation and what is replenishing. Many of us get to this point in ministry and it is helpful to revisit the question of relaxing vs. replenishing often. Taking a few minutes to clarify relaxing and replenishing is helpful and enough to give us tremendous margin.

Define the Difference

What is relaxing and what is crashing? I ask myself that often. I have learned watching 4 hrs of Netflix on the couch isn't relaxing...it is crashing and crashing isn't a healthy long-term strategy. Relaxing is what puts us into equalibirium...what it takes for us to breathe deeply again and be rested. Replenishment involves the activities that energize us and help us to live and lead to our full potential.

What's At Stake?

What are you great at? When are you at your best? Now let me ask you this question. Are you willing to lose that part of your life and ministry?

That's what at stake. Whenever we live out of a place with no relaxation or replenishment we can get into dangerous places quickly. It makes us start "shooting from the hip" and not leading strategically.

Define What Relaxes You and What Replenishes You

This will be different for each person. Take out a sheet of paper and start making a list of each of these two categories.

Build The Two Into Your Schedule

Both of these are different activities and require different things. Think first about the difference. 

  • Different Environments
  • Different People
  • Different Situations
  • Different Times

How do you now fit these into your schedule? Some of these are daily, others are weekly and we also schedule longer breaks throughout the year.

Mentioned Articles:

Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime: Scientific American

How To Rest For Real: Relevant Online

PHD Comics Vacation

5 Tips to Help Entrepreneurs Rest This Week: Forbes

Direct download: PP41_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:11am CDT

Welcome Back!

In this episode of Productive Pastor I am going to walk through a year-round sermon preparation calendar. So many folks ask me how they can find the time to get ahead in their preaching, and this is the best way I can think of. The first few parts of it are more production oriented and the last half is very specific about sermon preparation.

Mentioned Links

  1. 7 Must-Do Items for a Church Growth Calendar.
    Don't roll your eyes over the title. Think of it as a church engagement calendar. I stumbled across this post earlier in the week and have slowly been reading and letting it sink in. There is tons of great information and ideas here.
  2. How I work 40 hrs in 16.7 (The Simple Technique That Gave Me My Life Back). 
    I referenced this in an earlier episode, but didn't have access to a shareable link. Well here it is. If you want to have better control over your time...this is the way.

Creating a Sermon Preparation Calendar

Many times I hear from people about their desire to have more time to plan and prepare ahead in regards to preaching. This episode I want to share with you a way you can create a whole year vision for preaching, stay on top of things AND still have time for the rest of ministry. 

Remember, the things we feel we don't have time for are often the things we don't have the time to NOT do. 

Yearly

Once a year take a few days to think about the next year of preaching. Get away for a few days by yourself or with anyone else who teaches at your church. Bring along whatever you think will be helpful. I usually bring my journals from the year, my bible (duh), a few interesting books that have impressed me and a single volume commentary. Also, bring any demographic resources you might have, survey data AND a record of the last couple of years of preaching. 

This will help you prayerfully discern the direction your preaching could take for the next year. Often, as soon as this is done it works great to have a brain-storming session with the larger Sunday morning ministry team. 

Quarterly

Think of the ideas you have had a couple of weeks out from a Sunday that could have been easily accomplished if you would have had the time. We have all had them...and they usually end in regret because the only thing stopping us is time. 

One of the benefits of planning in advance is being aware of what is coming up. If you plan out...you will find these moments of inspiration strike when you DO have the time. 

The quarterly meeting is where you can talk about the environment, the schedule for preaching series and the details that allow all of your teams to be working on Sunday. As far as the preaching goes...it helps you begin to develop trajectory, the specific passages and the intended response. 

Monthly
At the monthly level preparation starts to get a little more personal. I take 1 day a month to do this. I focus on the sermons I am preaching for the current month and I prepare ahead for the next month by creating evernote folders and printing out sermon worksheets for each Sunday. 

The art of being aware of what you are preaching will help you so much. 

Weekly
The best thing to schedule each week during your preparation time is a few hours to devote to the future. That will help you get just enough traction to jump into things quickly. I then schedule my preparation time each day and devote it to a specific task. 

Daily
When I create my evernote files, I add the passage I am preaching to the top of each note. Every day during my devotional time I read the current week's passage and the next weeks passage. 

The best way to always have the time to be working ahead in sermon preparation is to build in time to be aware of what's coming up. Your church, your teams and yourself will appreciate the effort. 

Sermons That Have Reach Mailing List (signup to get the newest version of my sermon worksheet). 

 

Direct download: pp40_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:45pm CDT

In this episode of the Productive Pastor we hear from Rev. John Jay Alvaro, Senior Pastor of Spring Creek Baptist Church, about his unique sermon note process. John Jay has also created a fantastic resource about his process called "Creating Outside the Lines: Searching For A Visual Homeletic."

We talk about the visual process of sermon delivery John Jay practices and how he found his way to it. We talk about what it means for a congregation to give their pastor the space to find new ways to communicate. Ultimately, this isn't about a delivery tactic, but instead a process of public creativity and holy presentation.

Links Mentioned
PDF of Creating Outside the Lines (Creating Outside the Lines pdf. )
Spring Creek Sermons
Maker Monthly

Direct download: PP39_mixdownv2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:56pm CDT