The Productive Pastor

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 CST

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 CST

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 CST

Welcome to Project Management month. This month we are going to focus all of the productive pastor content on project management. I have some great resources and interviews lined up.

The List:

10 Indicators You Have No Margin in Life: Charles Stone
Do you struggle with margin or need a wake-up call? This list of ten helps each of us self-diagnosis where we are on the margin scale.

The 5 Zeros You Should Achieve Every Day To Have Peace Of Mind: Timo Kiander
Many of us are familiar with the concept of inbox zero. In this blog post, Timo takes it a step further and shares what it looks like to really clean off your slate every day.

The Challenge of Setting Multiple Goals at Once (and how to actually do it): Belle Beth Cooper
Do you ever try to start 4 things at the same time. Usually I end up failing miserable when I do this. Here is why that happens and how to fix it.

Two Things Most People Miss The Most That Matter The Most

As we dig into Project Management 101, there are two things we really need to talk about. I strongly feel if anyone can get these two done well (or at least decent), they will have made much more headway than the average person.

1. Pre-Plan
The planning we do at the very first part of the project matters. It helps us define three things; the project, the goals and the timeline. To really do this well, I find it helps to always work through the same set of questions. Here is a great worksheet for you to use. You can download it free here.

The first secret to great project management is focusing on the clarity you will need to drive you throughout the project.

PP003: Project Mangagement Pre-Sheet by Chad Brooks

2. Brainstorm
Where clarity and detail matters in the first step, this is the step to go hog wild. I use post-its or notecards and write down every single thing that comes to mind. This isn't the place to edit or restrain yourself. Just get down all of the ideas you have. Once you are at a stopping point, you can then use the items you came up with to help build a timeline.

Next Episode
On the next episode I interview Rich Birch, of unSeminary.com and the unSeminary podcast. I had a great time talking with him and it will be a great episode to learn from.

Mentioned:
Why I Love Worksheets (and how I design them).

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: pp24v2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am CST

Ok listeners. It's time to get into the big stuff. Not the easy, entry level time management, but the stuff of practitioners and productivity evangelists. This episode is about how to lose a work week and not lose your sanity. From time to time we all have to do it. The very fear of this is probably one of the reasons people in ministry don't sabbath well. We are scared to be out of town because of all the work we might get behind on.

The List

Life Hacks of the Rich and Famous: Journl
I especially love the idea of rhythm and routine. It helps out tremendously when you are willing to delegate the tiny decisions to the same thing, habit or practice.

The New Habit Challenge: Make a Better To Do List: Rachel Gillett
This is a great blog post. Just making a to do list isn't enough. Here is how to make the list actually work for you. I really like the idea of knocking out what you absolutely hate-but then building the momentum to get through the day.

How To Lose a Week (and not lose it all)

1. Know what you do.
This is wear a routine of weekly reviews plus a great template practice comes in handy. You can easily look at what you are regularly getting done so you can plan out your attack.

2. What can you NOT do?
Everyone has those tasks they think are absolutely essential. Let's seriously think how many of those can't get dropped or put off for the next week.

3. What can YOU not do?
This is a perfect time to start delegating. Try to hand off a task to someone just to see how well it goes. You might be able to teach them something as well as teach yourself something.

4. What can you work ahead on?
Having a production calendar and a preaching calendar are essential. When you know for a few weeks you are going out of town you can slowly work towards creating some time margin.

5. Can you squeeze in a little time while you are gone?
What about an hour in the morning or missing a session of the conference. If you plan to give yourself a brief moment of time you can take care of the absolute essentials or put out any fires.

6. Plan your reentry.
Think about what your first day might look like. Give yourself the space to actually accomplish what absolutely needs to get done that first day back.

Resources Mentioned:
The Four Hour Work Week
The War of Art

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: PP23.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am CST

Have you ever almost shut down from the stress of loosing control of your to-do list? Don't lie. You have. We all have.

In this episode of The Productive Pastor I share the 5 ways you can destroy a massive to-do list and set yourself up for future productivity success.

The List

1. 1 Big and Three Medium: John Zeratsky
I found this tweet back in July. It caused an interesting discussion as well as got my mind working. I have started doing this the last few weeks. This is a simple life hack.

2. 7 Things You Can Do on Friday to Make Monday Awesome: Kevin Daum
My wife always clears her desk at the end of a workday. On Friday, she even does more. It all goes into making Monday better. Kevin gives 7 great tips for you to integrate into your workweek to make next week better.

3. Achieve Your Goals by Focusing on Critical Activities: Harry Che
What is absolutely critical for you to do today? Most of us can't answer that question. The secret sauce to hitting goals is to know what you need to do.

How To Destroy A Massive To-Do List

1. Collect it.
These thing are sitting in your head and other places taking up emotional energy. Carve out some time and just get everything on paper. I prefer post-it notes and a sharpie. David Allen's classic Getting Things Done talks about the benefit of the capture process.

2. Get it all in the same place.
Once you have a giant stack of post-it's, start writing them down. You can do this in a digital document, but I prefer paper (it makes the next step easier). Don't try to organize just yet.

3. Filter out what can die.
What has been dropped for so long the damage has already been done? What really doesn't matter? What doesn't move things forward and might have little to no benefit?

Let them die.

4. Categorize and rank importance.
What items on your list go together? Home, work, school, personal...there will be plenty. You will most likely even have some sub categories. I generally do this first level with a highlighter.

Once you have them grouped, start ranking them by importance. I prefer the Eisenhower Method. Start marking what is important and urgent. Those are your mission critical tasks.

5. What is yours alone and what can be delegated?
Delegation is a skill I am working on (I am currently between horrible and bad). Michael Hyatt's work on delegation is the best I know of.

Toolbox
Last week my Dad emailed me. He is a great pastor and has been featured on the show before. He gave me advice he first heard from Bill Hybels. He told me "when your stress levels are high, up your solitude and exercise." Let me tell you how much this has helped me the last few weeks!

Direct download: pp22.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am CST

I have been waiting for this episode for months! I sit down with John Chandler, host and producer of the Sermonsmith podcast and learn from him. John interviews a different preacher on each episode and it is a wealth of knowledge about the craft of sermon preparation.

The List:
How I Prepare for Expository Bible Study or Preaching: Jeremy SarborJeremy is a listener and podcaster of his own. He runs a great blog and he shared this post with me. It is well worth your reading.

Create a Weekly Attack Plan: Art of Manliness
I came across this post in my feed reader one day. It is a great look at how one person handles an immense amount of creative responsibility as well as life in general.

Sermonsmith and John Chandler

John and I had a great conversation. I asked him these 5 questions.

1. What motivated you to start a podcast all about sermon preparation?
2. What has been the biggest common denominator in your interviews?
3. What was the most surprising thing?
4. What have you incorporated in your preparation and enjoyed the most?
5. What seems to be the usual pattern of preparation for your guests?

We had a great conversation and I hope you both enjoy it and check out Sermonsmith.

Mentioned
Sermonsmith.com

You can check out the archived Productive Pastor Insider where I shared my sermon workflow here.

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: pp21_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am CST

Welcome to sermon preparation month!

In August I am focusing both episodes on sermon preparation. This is the topic I have been hearing about the most and I am want to share some great content with you.

The List:

For a More Ordered Life, Organize like a chef. Dan Charnas
In the world of cooking, the mise-en-place is a near sacred technique of chefs and line cooks of preparation. In this NPR article and sound bite, Dan shares how we can each incorporate these ideas into our own organization.

5 Reasons to take an Extended Preaching Break: Bobby Williams
Bobby shares his journey of over-preaching and the benefit of taking extended breaks from preaching at his church.

Using Evernote in Message Preparation: Bobby Wiliiams
Besides a Moleskine notebook, evernote is the tool I have heard more preachers refer to using. I use Evernote like crazy. Bobby shares how he sets up and uses Evernote to aid in his message preparation. This is a great beginners guide to using Evernote for preaching.

5 Keys to Effective Sermon Preparation

I remember when I first started preaching. There was no rhyme or reason to how I prepared. I just started typing with an empty document and hoped for the best. Later, I took a few notes from my bible and started at least working with a basic idea in mind.

Over the last several years I have put a pretty good rhythm into place. These are 5 essentials practices that I believe will help anyone's sermon preparation.

1. Read.
That's it. You have to be reading. Read many different types of writing; articles, magazines, the newpaper and online. Read books related or unrelated to ministry. You will be surprised how much material you begin building up in your head.

2. Have a Holding Tank.
Find a way to capture this information. I use Evernote and a Field Notes notebook. Between the two, I always have something with me. I organize evernote with three folders to keep me moving forward and specific notebooks and folders for sermons I am researching/writing and preparing.

Here is a great read from over a 100 years ago about the benefit of keeping a preaching notebook.
The Growing of a Sermon.

3. Have a Preaching Calendar.
This is the best way to stay ahead and make sure you are preaching the whole counsel of God. It also is a huge help to the folks who assist in worship.

Productive Pastor 17: Why You Need a Production Calendar

4. Ask Others
Asking other people what they need to hear from church and letting them in on the preparation and visioning part of sermon work will not only be a help to you, but teach others about the holy act of preaching and preparation.

The Social Church Webinar

5. Find/Build and Stick to a preparation rhythm.
This is one of the hardest, but most rewarding practices. Learning to get this built into your weekly schedule will transform your sermon preparation. It will keep you on task and getting done early in the week (no one likes to write a sermon on Saturday).

Resources:
My Sermon Planning Worksheet
My Favorite Resources for Modern Preaching

On the next episode we will have John Chandler, of Sermonsmith, as our guest. He has interviewed dozens of preachers about their preparation process. It will be great.

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: PP20.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am CST

Welcome to the 19th episode of The Productive Pastor. I have a great interview in place for you today with Michael Lukaszewski focusing on systems. This is a topic I have been excited about for a long time. Michael is THE GUY to talk about why your ministry needs to use systems and I am so excited to share this interview with the productive pastor community.

The List:
HT to Dean Libby and Jonathan Andersen for sharing these links with the community via twitter.

4 Things You Thought Were True About Time Management: Amy Gallo
As hot as the subject is right now, people can easily convince themselves of the benefits of practices that aren't that beneficial. Amy dispels some myths and does a great job questioning things people think are true.

23 Daily Habits That Will Make You Smarter: Maggie Zhang
These are great time hacks...but also great practices. I think all of them can be part of always becoming sharper, more tuned to your life and just productive.

The 7 Deadly Email Sins: Zachary Sexton
Email isn't a big issue for me, but it is for others. This list outlines some best practices as well as great tips to make sure your inbox doesn't run you.

Systems with Michael Lukaszewski

1. What Are Systems?
If you need to do something more than once...you need to create a system for it.
They aren't a set it and forget item, but a way to effectively organize ministry. This is about becoming more effective.

2. How can you lead in systems from the middle?
How can a youth/associate/worship pastor lead using systems? Michael gives some great tips to leading from the middle.

3. What is the biggest conversation for ministry leaders to be having around productivity?
This isn't about tools, the conversation we need to have is this...

"Is what we are doing truly worthwhile?"

Michaellukaszewski.com
@mlukaszewski

If you are interested in Michael or want more information on systems, check out these links. If yIf

Mentioned:
The500network.com/ Improvingchurch.com
The Rocket Company
The Systems Bundle
Five Financial Systems Every Church Should Have (FREE DOWNLOAD)

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: PP19_mixdown2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am CST

In this episode of the Productive Pastor I take the time to talk about my favorite time of the day and what mornings can mean for your personal productivity. We take a more conversational approach with this episode, so sit back and enjoy.

The List:
Creating A Lovely Morning: Leo Babauta
Leo gives us a beautiful example of the power of mornings and how they are created.

A Step-by-Step System to Higher Productivity: Greg Hickman
This blog post is for the true productivity nerd. Greg pulls back the curtain and goes really in-depth with his own personal system. I learned some great things here I plan on trying out.

Using Themed Work Weeks Instead of Themed Day Weeks: David Seah
I have been featuring David a lot on the podcast. His latest experiment is really interesting. I am a big fan of themed days. David is experimenting with shifting over to themed weeks.

The Morning Show

In this episode I share about why I absolutely love mornings. I think they are the most important part of the day. Here are a few bullets from what I shared.

  • What does your morning look like? Is it hectic or intentional?
  • My morning reset two years ago.
  • The more we direct our own schedule the more important it is for us to be on top of it.
  • Mornings are the most strategic part of the day. We get things together and plan for progress.
  • Anyone can make a better morning

I also share what my current morning routine is and how I am changing things up to streamline it for my new rhythms.

Remember to tweet your critical element using #productivepastor. You can reach me @revchadbrooks

Resources Mentioned.
Michael Hyatt: Becoming More Productive by Reengineering your Morning Ritual
Angel Chernoff: 12 Quiet Rituals of Extremely Successful Humans
Ministry Matters

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: PP18.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am CST