The Productive Pastor

Summer is HERE!!!

Summer means all sorts of awesome things. One of them is vacations. But let's be honest...most people in ministry don't vacation very well. This episode of the Productive Pastor is about how to take a great vacation and to not worry about the things that usually keep ministry  leaders from taking vacations. 

Front Matter

1. First #productivepastor tip: Go to the doctor. Don't be stubborn like Chad. I can't imagine how much time and energy I have wasted over the last couple of months because I am stubborn and I didn't want to spend 1 hour with my doctor. 

2. Winners of Called by JD Walt. 

A big thanks to ALL OF YOU who have been rating and reviewing the podcast on iTunes. It is a huge help. 

3. Michael Hyatt: Getting the Most Out of Evernote. 
Michael Hyatt is responsible for many of the things I do...and Evernote is one of them. His latest podcast episode is about interesting uses for Evernote. I found it incredibly helpful. If you want to get into Evernote for the first time, get the free download and pick up a copy of Brett Kelly's Evernote Essentials. It is totally worth it. 

Awesome Vacations and Exactly How to Make Them Work

How well do you vacation? My wife and I have only taken a handful in ten years. We go on trips with family...but we have only gotten away, just the two of us, 3 times in 10 years. That includes our honeymoon. This year we decided to fix this problem. 

The first step is taking a great vacation is getting over the idea in your head that ministry people aren't allowed to be gone for over a few days. Your leadership needs to have your back. This will help you get into the right headspace. A theology of vacation is much like a theology of sabbath. They are purposeful and necessary. I was totally floored when one of my leaders told me, after my last vacation, "You are acting like yourself and that is exactly who we need you to be."

You need to decide or figure out what relaxes you. Vacations can be replenishing or retreat. What are the things that will contribute to that? This is part of developing the "why" of your vacation. Trust me, just doing this sort of thing in your head will help you get into vacation mode quicker. 

Tips on Making Vacation Work

1. Take 2 Sundays off. 
Yep. Get out of town for more than 1 Sunday. It will be tough, but it gives you the space to actually decompress. If this is impossible for you...it is a personal and organizational leadership issue. You need to be developing other leaders and teachers anyway. 

2. Clear your tasks 1.5 days before you leave. 
No one likes rushing till the last minute. If you are planning on leaving town Friday morning, have all of your tasks and work done by Wednesday at noon. This gives you an additional 1.5 days to take care of ministry items that tend to drop in our lap. If you end up not being busy, it will just help you clear your head earlier. 

3. Take 1 day back to recollect (not do). 
I am a fan of David Allen's Getting Things Done. Part of his method involves a collection phase. Use your first day back to collect all of the things that are now due. It will help you jump back into things better than instantly carving away at the first issue on the pile. Taking a recollection day at work allows you to strategize your time. 

4. Tell people you are going on vacation.
I have never had an issue with people bugging me when I am out of town (for work or pleasure). The reason why? I let them know I will be gone. The last few times I have traveled I haven't had a single issue. Once I get back, I hear from people...but generally people my age (I'm 35) respect being out of town. 

5. Find space for your creative mind to flourish.
Remember when I told you to decide if your trip was going to be replenishing or retreat? Make sure you spend the time doing the things that will make this vacation exactly what you want it to be. I read, but do whatever relaxes you. Don't "work" any. If I had an idea for a sermon or another work related item, I just wrote it down in an evernote notebook I made exactly for the purpose. I processed it when I got back in town. 

Remember to sign up for the Productive Pastor Insider List. Get a great FREE productivity resource and the inside scoop every other Friday.

Direct download: PP33.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:11am CDT

Welcome to the very first "sub-episode" of the Productive Pastor. Occasionally I will have either more content than I really can release or I end up getting connected (usually through a listener) to someone who can really add quality conversation to an episode.

I've been thinking about this for a few weeks and had a great interaction with Nathan Bledsoe (@revnayte) on twitter and he brought me into a conversation with his friend John Allen (@revjohnallen). John had some super interesting things to share about meetings and I recorded a quick conversation with him. 

Trust me, you will want to listen to this. 

John really shares about the pastoral heart in meeting leadership and what it means to keep people engaged during meetings. 

Thanks so much for coming on the show. Trust me, you will want to listen to this. 

 

Mentioned:
Wellesley Village Church
Church of the Pilgrims

Direct download: PP32and5_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am CDT

Do you enjoy meetings? I have a love/hate relationship with them. I have worked in places with great meetings and horrible meetings. Now that I am in charge of most meetings, I want to make them part of a positive leadership experience for others.

Front Material

1. Back to Fridays.
I tried an experiment with Monday release dates, but I have heard from you (and seen the release day stats) enough to move back to Friday release days. Next episode will come out on Friday, May 29th.

2. iTunes review and rating.
Big thanks to Uriah Oxford and Jason Wnc for leaving reviews and ratings on iTunes. This really helps the podcast get out. Do you want to win a free book? The first person to leave a review and rating after release date will get a free copy of JD Walt's book Called.

Making the Most of Meetings

Meetings can be a drag or an incredible tool for leadership. Think back to the places and experiences where you have had great meetings and bad meetings. What did you learn to do (or not to do)? What environments were great for meetings and what were crummy?

1. Plan
Why are you meeting? Do you need to meet? Think how many meetings can be accomplished through an email or text message. If you are just getting together to inform others of plans or because you have a meeting on the books...you probably don't need to meet.

2. Purpose
Once you have decided you do need to meet, think about the purpose. What is being decided at this meeting? Who is doing what during the meeting? Perhaps another team member needs to be leading a certain part of the meeting or the entire meeting altogether. Run through a checklist to make sure you are prepped and ready to go. Send out a brief agenda so folks come prepared.

3. Pow-wow
Get your team together. This should be fun as well as serious. I once had a boss that would either meet in a formal room or during a walk to the gas station to get a snack. Great things were accomplished in both settings because the team was just that...a team. They were focused on what was going on and able to collaborate towards shared purpose.

4. Path
Don't leave the meeting until you have a plan for what happens afterwards. Who is following up on what? What tasks are crucial to the goals the team is working towards?

If you put all of this work in and still don't have a plan for afterwards you are going to miss out on all the great work you have done.

Resources Mentioned.
Teams That Thrive: 5 Disciplines of Collaborative Church Leadership
Nancy Duarte- Meetings: When to Present and When to Converse
Lifehacker-Meeting Checklist
99u- Is this Meeting Necessary?

Remember to sign up for the Productive Pastor Insider List. Get a great FREE productivity resource and the inside scoop every other Friday.

Direct download: PP32.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:58pm CDT

One of the parts of the Productive Pastor I love doing is big ideas and big vision. But sometimes life needs to be taken in smaller chunks. The day to day is where we grind things out. So on this episode I want us to talk about two related ideas; list making and bottle necks.

 

Me and the Geek.
My friend Joel Sharpton is a podcast producer and host. His newest show is called "Me and the Geek" and it focuses on people with interests and skill sets and how they geek out in these areas. I was privileged to be on the show last week. You can listen to the episode here.

Lists and Bottlenecks

I think lists are the backbone of productivity. You have to be aware of what you are doing.

There are two kids of lists.

1. Forward projecting

2. Task Catching

Forward projecting lists are acquired from working downwards from a larger project. These are the action items of something much larger. Some of these tasks might be repeatable, or a one time task. Forward projecting lists are great because you can brain storm the necessary items, get input from others (which you are doing) and then find the holes. You don't necessarily have to do this in order, just be able to organize them when you are ready.

Task catching lists are something we all need. Let me ask you this-you are walking down the hall at church on a Sunday morning and someone catches you to ask you a question. They bring up a few things you need to remember for Monday morning. How do you remember them? Everyone needs a task catching method.

Bottlenecks.

Bottlenecks are the place things slow down on your list. It might be a specific type of task or a person a task is designated to. In every project you will hit bottlenecks. For solo pastors, we have to be really honest with ourselves in how we can cause bottlenecks.

Two things help us with bottlenecks.

1. Healthy systems. (Check out Michael Lukaszewski on episode 19. He's a systems jedi).
2. A healthy volunteer ministry. If we look at New Testament leadership, we find out about mobilization and influence. Folks want to be part of something that challenges them AND is well thought out.

Resources Mentioned.
Volunteer Rocket
Teams That Thrive: 5 Disciplines of Collaborative Church Leadership
Strengthfinders

Links Mentioned.
How I Podcast (My Podcasting Toolbox)
What I Learned Skipping Church

Direct download: TTF31.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:38pm CDT

Do you have big rocks in your schedule? Or do you just do everything in the order it comes in? 

We are going to talk about making sure the right things are scheduled and scheduled first in this episode. 

5 Most Popular Productive Pastor Episodes

1. 17 Why You Need a Production Calendar
2. 14 The Power of a Time Audit
3. 16 Justin Wise on Call, Hustle and Why Goals Matter
4. 1 How to Reset your Morning
5. 5 A Conversation with JD Walt about Sabbath

Social Media Redux

1. schedugr.am-HT to Skye Mclain
2
Bufferapp.com power scheduler (use it. Trust me)
3. Meet Edgar-if only I had the money for this one. 

This last week I worked on being more intentional with my personal social media scheduling and was able to increase Productive Pastor downloads by 300%. Trust me, we can never stop being intentional enough with our social media scheduling. It free's us up to actually be social and interact with people. 

Scheduling the Big Rocks

Have you ever seen the illustration involving a jar, big rocks, pebbles, sand and water (or some variation). The basic idea is when we put the big (ie: most important) things in first we are able to get everything else in. This episode we are going to talk about how to schedule those big rocks. 

1. What Matters Most?
What are the things in your ministry or life that matter most? These are the things you must do. They might be tasks no one else knows about, but in order for your ministry to move forward they must be done. They can be the things that only you can do (hopefully this is the case). 

2. Yearly->Monthly->Weekly->Daily
What are you doing tomorrow? Having an accurate plan for what your week will look like is key. We can't just declare something important, never strategize how to attack it and expect it to get done. Big rocks are always part of a boulder. 

3. Weekly Planning
The Week is Where You Win.

I think the week is the time during our strategic productivity that provides the best results. If we can rock the week-we can do anything. Sit down with your big rocks and determine how much time they will take to accomplish. You are going to schedule that time first. 

4. Build Your Workflow

1. Meetings/Things that Don't Move.
2. Big Rocks
3. Medium stuff
4. Everything Else

Resources Mentioned

Week Dominator by NeuYear
The Pastor: A Memoir by Eugene Peterson
The Contemplative Pastor by Eugene Peterson

Volunteer Rocket: I have been using this program for the last two months and I can't tell you how much it is affecting our ministry design at Foundry. It is expensive, but I would buy it all over again. 

Remember to sign up for the Productive Pastor Insider List. Get a great FREE productivity resource and the inside scoop every other Friday.

Direct download: pp30_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am CDT

Welcome to the 29th Productive Pastor. This episode is all about social media scheduling and how that might affect transparency and honesty. I also give a social media scheduling sheet at the bottom of the shownotes. This whole episode came from this instagram picture from a few months back.

While I am not scheduling a month in advance right now, I totally believe in mapping out social media scheduling. My friend David Lyell asked a great question and I promised I would hit it up in a future episode. Well now you have it!

The Middle

Thanks for all the great folks who shouted out about the last episode with Omar and Michelle. They got open and honest with us and it really resonated with people.

I also want to thank Michael Romans for this awesome tweet.

Project Management Links 

We did a couple of episodes on project management in season two and I found two great links this week about project management tools. I want to share them with you, I think both are great ideas for how to actually manage a project.

How To Organize Your Entire Life with Trello

No Project Manager? Try Bullet Journaling for Business Productivity

How to use Social Media Scheduling (and not lose your soul)

I believe highly in social media scheduling, just for the sake of productivity, much less for intentionality. Many people argue that doing great social media takes to much time, but with scheduling you can take care of it in a few minutes a week. Let's break this into the Why, What, When, Who and How.

Why
If you think everyone in your network see's the posts you make, you will be really surprised. A tweet has a lifespan of about 18 minutes, Most Facebook page updates are seen by 6-20% of the audience. I think Instagram probably has the best ratio, but I am not convinced they aren't using a viewing algorithm. If you want to make maximum impact, you have to schedule your most important updates.

Simply Measured for Facebook

What
Look at your insights, analytics and statistics. Let that data tell you what you need to be posting, what people are responding to best and how they are responding.

When
What are the best times of the day for you? When is it a bad idea to post?

Who
Your data tells you who follows you. What questions should that make you ask?

How
Each network has the best tools to schedule your posts. For Facebook I recommend the native scheduling ability. For twitter I use hootsuite. There is now a way to externally schedule instagram with www.latergram.me. I am a big fan of buffer for personal twitter and facebook sharing, but I find it isn't the best for organizational scheduling.  

So how do I use this sheet?
I highlight one thing to be my Major Emphasis. This is the most important "thing" I am trying to communicate that week. I also have a few medium items as well. I also make sure to emphasize a few posts that are more than likely to get high levels of engagement (based on my research). I then begin to fill in my posts for each network based off of the times I know things work best in each network. If a post is really important, I make sure to schedule it at the time I know the most people are online. I feel in the blanks after that.

Productive Pastor Social Media Schedule (download)

Transparency
The kicker in all of this is exactly what Dave asked about. We have to be strategic but we also have to be transparent. Folks will shut us off in a heartbeat if we are just advertising to them. Part of the beauty of doing this all at one time is realizing how you aren't being social and you are just asking, asking and asking.

Resources Mentioned

Justin Wise Think Digital.

Remember to sign up for the Productive Pastor Insider List. Get a great FREE productivity resource and the inside scoop every other Friday.

Direct download: PP29.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:52am CDT

This episode of the Productive Pastor will be a little bit different. I have a conversation with Omar Rikabi and Michelle Manual. Both of these conversations are centered around how productivity relates with our call and soulcare. These conversations stemmed out of the New Room conference this past year in Nashville. Omar and Michelle are friends from seminary. We had great conversations together and I wanted to attempt to repeat them for the podcast.

You can find Omar’s writing at http://omarrikabi.com/
You can find Michelle’s writing at https://dreadedpastor.wordpress.com/

Mentioned
Called: Following a Future Filled with the Possible by JD Walt

Direct download: PP28final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am CDT

Today I interview one of the top leaders in ministry in the modern world, Carey Nieuwhof, the pastor of Connexus Church in Ontario, Canada. This episode is full of absolute gold.

I wanted to have this conversation with Carey because of his unique situation in ministry. He has served in the same town for decades and has some of the same people with him since the beginning. I let Carey tell you the nuts and bolts of this story. Here are the questions I used to guide our conversation.

1. How did your approach to productivity shift as your ministry changed?
2. How do you defend your time?
3. What message about productivity would you like to give listeners?

The part of our conversation I appreciated the most was when we talked about proactive vs. reactive. It has been a topic on my mind lately and I imagine I will be devoting a future episode to the topic.

Make sure to check out Carey's blog and podcast. You can find him on twitter @cnieuwhof

The Back Matter

Mentioned:
My Favorite Productivity Tools
The Week Dominator

 The Bookshelf:
Center Church by Tim Keller

Remember to sign up for the Productive Pastor Insider List. Get a great FREE productivity resource and the inside scoop every other Friday.

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

Welcome to the third season of the Productive Pastor. I am really excited about this season and I want to share a few things with you before we jump into the episode.

New Content: I am working up a great way to feature different folks in the productive pastor community. One of the things I am fascinated with is other peoples work flows and space. Look for the "How I Pastor" series coming out soon.
New Conversations: The Productive Pastor has always had an undercurrent conversation about call and a theology of time management. We will let this conversation come up for air a little more this season. Until then-here are two great episodes for background information.

1. Episode 4: Starting a Theology of Time Management.
2. Episode 5: JD Walt on Sabbath

New Resources: I am committing myself to putting together 3-4 new resources this season for you and give them away. Most of these are in development right now.

How to Read for Maximum Effectiveness

Most of us in ministry are readers. If not, you need to be. Readers are leaders and leaders are Readers. It is a cliche...but totally the truth. The best pastors and ministry leaders are the ones constantly learning.

Reading can easily be a drag. We don't know what to read or how to go about retaining the information. There are services out there giving you book summaries...but let's be honest. Most of them are barely passable.

Maximizing your reading is all about developing a system for reading.

What really opened my eyes up over the last 6 months was a series of articles by Ryan Holiday.

1. How and Why to Keep a Common Place Book
2. The Notecard System: The Key to Remembering, Organizing and Using Everything You Read.
3. Read to Lead: How To Digest Books Above Your Level. 

Let me be honest with you. I first read these articles in the summer and spent to much time digging around the rest of Ryan's archives. But the secret I found really isn't a secret. Tons of other people manage to read an inordinate amount of material and keep ahead of it...all while managing other jobs.

The secret to reading for maximum effectiveness is to intentionally (and strategically) plan your retention.

1. Map out your reading. 
I did this for 2015. Other books will fall in with this, but I have a reading plan. Think of it like a course list for college or seminary. I have a path.

2. Find a time.
For me it is in the mornings after my walk and in the mid-afternoon. This is when my mind is at a "reading mode" the best.

3. Have a system.
Just working through a book and randomly highlighting, flagging and marking won't get you anywhere. Figure out a way to truly mark up the book and then save it. I use my own system of flags, notecards and evernote.

4. Process your reading.
Once a month I process all my reading. I go through the analog notes and input them into evernote. If it is a Kindle book-you can route them into Evernote (HT: Michael Hyatt). I follow my markup system and if anything needs it's own special note in Evernote, I make it. Each book also goes into it's own note.

This sounds laborious, but imagine what it can be like in 10-20 years when you have an extensive research library you can search, right at your fingertips and it is your own thoughts.

The Back Matter

The Bookshelf: Over the last two weeks I have been reading 2 great books I want to recommend.
1. Simplify: Ten practices to Unclutter your Soul by Bill Hybels
2. Strange Leadership: 40 Ways to Lead an Innovative Organization by Greg Atkinson

Michael Lukaszewski (episode 19) has a great new company called Church Fuel. Their main product is a year program focused on systems. It looks great.

Our next episode will be a conversation with several people about call, time management and how their own personal theological development of productivity has affected their life.

 

Remember to sign up for the Productive Pastor Insider List. Get a great FREE productivity resource and the inside scoop every other Friday.

Direct download: PP26.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:20am CDT

On this episode of The Productive Pastor I interview Rich Birch, of Unseminary.com and Liquid Church. Rich is a great pastor, leader and project manager. 

The List
Your Not Going Fast Enough

How to Be an Effective Road Warrior

Tomorrow Tonight: The Importance of Pre-Planning

Rich Birch on Project Management

Rich and I talk about project management and what it looks like for church leadership to learn about project management and why it is vital to ministry. 

Our conversation focuses around 3 questions. 

1. What is your organizational sweet spot?

2. What do ministry leaders need to not just understand, but rock project management?

3. How can a leader get their feet wet with project management?

We talked about these books to help people begin to rock project management.

Getting Things Done: David Allen

The Four Hour Work Week: Tim Ferris

The E-Myth: Michael Gerber

Rich also shares about his passion for excellent announcements in worship and offers the Productive Pastor community a great free resource. You can grab it at unseminary.com/chad

Check out Rich at unseminary.com and follow him on twitter @richbirch. Make sure to listen to his podcast. It consistently is one of my ministry favorites. 

Confession Time

Over the last few weeks you might have missed the Productive Pastor Podcast (at least I hope you did). Last week I shared this email with the folks signed up for the insider list. What I realized is I had lost my motivation, the "why", of why this podcast matters tremendously to me. 

As I was contemplating this I read a blog post entitled "How I Went from Mad to Motivated". The quote that stuck out the most to me was this...

“Once I woke up from that false perspective – the perspective that the other stuff was more of a distraction at the time than anything else – I got mad at myself. Then I wanted to do something about it. I wanted to get back on the horse - the right horse. I was motivated."

So I did what I normally do. I made a list. I made a list of why many different things mattered to me. I realized many things I really care about had dropped off the map. 

So the podcast will be back. In January. With amazing new stuff and a great interview to kick off the new season. In the interim I will be producing some great new additions to the Productive Pastor community. 

Remember to sign up for the Productive Pastor Insider List. Get a great FREE productivity resource and the inside scoop every other Friday.

 

Direct download: PP25_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am CDT