Raise Your Vision

May 26, 2015

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4 Dynamics of Encountering Scripture By Mike Stickler

As ministry leaders, we’re meant to live out of the Scriptures. Or perhaps it’s better to say that we’re to live in the Scriptures, then live them out.

I appreciate how Dr. Ken Boa defines encounters with Scripture. He says, “When I think of ‘encounter with Scripture,’ I’m thinking about showing up before God with an open heart and with an open Bible and expecting that He is going to really open something to you. You may not feel anything; it may not be something palpable, but my view about the matter is that you’re putting yourself in a greenhouse, as it were, for growth.”

Ken describes four dynamics that are essential parts of our encounters with Scripture:

  • Knowing the text. This comes from reading the portion of Scripture.
  • Understanding the text. This is the fruit of prayerful study.
  • Experiencing the text. Ken calls this “chewing on the text.”
  • Applying the text. That’s where you take knowledge and apply it to real life situations in person-specific and situation-specific ways. Application is the dynamic that Scripture itself stresses the most.

What could be more important for our spiritual health as leaders than encounters with God in His Word?

You can hear more about Effective Ministry Leadership from Ken Boa on this week's featured program. Ken is also one of the presenters for The Raise Your Vision Online Forum.

Would you like to learn more? Join Mike and Ken in this free podcast

 

 

 

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May 26, 2015

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5 Keys to Creating a Generous Culture in Your Organization By Mike Stickler

It seems counter-intuitive, but one of the best ways for a church or nonprofit to thrive in a tough economy is to create a culture of generosity.

In a recent interview, stewardship expert Brian Kluth shared some very practical insights into creating a culture of generosity in a church or a nonprofit. Brian’s approach is so helpful I decided to reproduce the conversation here:

Mike Stickler: Brian, define for us what it means to be generous.

BK: Being generous is really about knowing what resources you have—those can be time, talent, treasure, things—and then intentionally sharing them. Ultimately we receive everything we have from God. How do we manage it? How do we share what we have? Being generous means learning what you have and learning to share it for God’s glory in your lifetime. And give, whether you’re a church or parachurch or individual or a family. We can all do that.

MS: How do we develop generosity in our organizations?

BK: I have a five-point approach to creating a generosity culture. They all begin with “I”.

The first is to INSTRUCT from Scripture. Ultimately the basis for generosity is a biblical ethos, a biblical DNA in whatever you do.

Second, you INFLUENCE the resources. You influence the people that you can influence. So on the nonprofit side it’s through your newsletters, it’s through your magazines, it’s through your email communications, the videos you produce, the events you put on.

For the church it’s the financial classes, it’s the pamphlets you create, the bulletin inserts you provide, the sermons you provide. You’re influencing through resources—materials that you produce and that you put into the hands of people.

Third, you INVOLVE through systems. You ultimately have to have collection systems. So a nonprofit may have a giving club program—four or five different levels where people can give monthly. Or they can give one time, or they can give certain levels of gifts. A nonprofit can have online giving, EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer) giving, websites.

The same with the church. What are the collection systems that you have? Too many churches pass the plate and nothing else. There used to be a great debate—should you pass the plate or have an offering box in the back? And I say yes. These days you need it all—you need the offering plates, you need the box in the back, you need the stock transfer accounts, you need the online giving, you need the EFT giving. You create as many ways as you can to involve your people through systems for giving.

Fourth, you INSPIRE through stories. You ultimately tell the story; you tell the story of your ministry and the impact it’s having. You let people talk about God’s grace in their life in giving.

And fifth, you IGNITE through vision. And this has to be more of a vision than just keeping the doors open. It has to be a vision to change lives.

And when those five things are going in any nonprofit or in any church of any size anywhere, when you’re operating on those five pistons, there are some amazing things that are going to begin to happen. Most groups, though, are only operating with one or two of them. Every ministry needs to incorporate all five within who they are and what they do.

You can hear more about Effective Ministry Leadership on this week's featured program.

 

 

 

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May 22, 2015

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Social Media: A Confession (of sorts) By Mike Stickler

I love social media. But I don’t always like it.

Here are some of my thoughts about this incredible exciting—but sometimes frustrating—phenomenon.

  • Social media communication is immediate. That means I can spread an urgent message instantly. That’s good. It also means I can post something the ends up hurting someone because I didn’t pause and think about it first.
  • It can give a great idea a wide audience. It came do the same thing for a bad idea.
  • It can help me to connect with old friends and make new ones. It can also eat into the time I could spend with the people right around me.
  • Social media can allow believers to share a biblical perspective on an important issue. It can also allow Christians to come off as unloving, self-righteous judges.
  • As with every technological development, it can be a conduit of great good and of great harm, depending on the heart and motives of the user. Speaking about social media, apologist Ravi Zacharias said, "Where destruction is the motive, unity is dangerous. Where goodness is the motive, unity is phenomenal."

How do we make the best use of social media while avoiding the pitfalls? I think these things are essential:

  • Pray before you log on. Ask the Lord to guard your heart and your words.
  • Check your motives. Why do you want to post that message? To put someone down or build someone up?
  • Have empathy. Remember that the person who reads your words is a human being, someone with needs and burdens and feelings, someone precious in the sight of the Lord. Just like you and me.
  • Remember that every believer is an ambassador of Christ to the world, wherever we are—even online.

Do you have a like/dislike relationship with social media? How do you use social media as a force for good? How can Christians be a redemptive presence online?

You can hear more about Effective Ministry Leadership from Mike Stickler on this week's featured program. Mike is also one of the presenters for The Raise Your Vision Online Forum

Would you like to learn more? Join Mike for this free Training

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May 20, 2015

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Is your presentation style BORING? By Mike Stickler

In this very competitive funding environment your presentations must engage the audience.  Here are some tips to make it memorable.

Get down from the stage, walk among the crowd and rather than ask, say "Let's dig into some questions." In development circles, it's known as the assumptive close. Assume there WILL be questions. And if the audience doesn't start asking, the speaker should be ready with questions to ask audience members. You have a room filled with marketplace leaders just waiting to chime in with their opinions.

Here are a few more ways to dial-up the interaction at conference learning sessions:

  • Audience Polls
    With smartphones everywhere, there are plenty of affordable (and even free) audience polling options where participants can text in their responses. In seconds, you have a colorful pie chart or bar graph with real-time data. Dealing with a low-tech crowd? Try my Red-Yellow-Green low-tech polling solution.
  • Purposeful Table Discussion
    Don't do the "go talk amongst yourselves" stuff. Pose one intriguing question, clearly and succinctly. Then let participants discuss possibilities at their table. PS: you should not be drinking water and reviewing the slide deck. Go mingle in the crowd and listen in on these discussions.  Even better have your team do the same . You're sure to catch something worth sharing when you reconvene.
  • Cast Your Audience as a Main Character in a Story
    What if your speaker told a story where the audience took on the role of one of the main characters? Then, stopping just short of the exciting climax, launch a "what would you do?" table discussion.
  • Make a Game of It
    There's nothing like a little friendly competition to get your audience involved. How about a learning scavenger hunt? A poster contest? Or maybe you'll pose questions throughout your presentation, collect responses via Twitter, and those who advance through the qualifying rounds make it to the finals on stage. [break]

Today's audience wants to roll up their sleeves and dig into learning content WITH you. Passive learning is out. Participatory learning is in. We need to find more ways to get them involved, interacting with each other, and at the center of it all. Your have more engagement and greater understanding of your vision.

Would you like to Learn More? Join Mike at this free Training

May 19, 2015

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The Autocratic Leader and the Transformational Leader By Mike Stickler

The Autocratic Leader and the Transformational Leader—What’s the Difference?

Recently I asked transformational leadership strategist Hugh Ballou to describe the differences between an autocratic-style leader and a transformational leader. Here are some insights that came out of that conversation.

In general an autocratic leader:

  • Leads by the force of his personality or charisma
  • Has veto power over all decisions
  • Seeks control over all aspects of the organization
  • Must approve every decision
  • Is the focus of the organization’s efforts
  • Views himself and the organization as one and the same
  • Thinks he is the most important person in the organization (and is probably right, since the organization would likely collapse without his control)

In contrast, the transformational leader:

  • Develops other people
  • Champions the vision rather than himself
  • Articulates the vision
  • Delegates to others
  • Builds leaders on teams
  • Empowers others to make decisions
  • Avoids micromanaging
  • Helps others build their skill sets
  • Builds relationships
  • Nurtures others
  • Models what he wants to see in others

Hugh elaborated on that last point. “The first and foremost piece of the transformational leader is we model what we want to see people do. We model high ethical standards; we model good work standards; we model a life of good faith; we model having a Sabbath. In the church we model what we want other people to do by functioning on a very high level ourselves. Those are my tenets of what makes a transformational leader.”

I asked Hugh to give us a word picture to help us understand the role of the transformational leader, and he referred to his decades of experience as a musical conductor.

Hugh said, “We are in the process of transforming people’s lives in ministry. Here’s a good analogy of a transformational leader: a choir director in a church. When people come into the choir, they’re individual singers. So their first transformation is that they become a choir.

“As they learn the music, they become an ensemble. As we sing and worship, as we grow in our faith we transform people’s lives, so our transformation is a continual faith journey. It’s a process of transformation over time, but the methodology of transformational leadership is infinitely scalable. We create a culture of people who understand leadership from the same perspective.”

Both styles of leadership can get things done. But the transformational leader does it by developing the God-given gifts in others.

Which style of leader are you? Which style of leader do you most enjoy following?

You can hear more about Effective Ministry Leadership from Hugh Ballou on this week's featured program. Hugh is also one of the presenters at The Raise Your Vision Online Forum.

Would You like to learn more?  Join Mike and Hugh for this free Podcast

 

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May 15, 2015

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Freebie Friday: Podcast "Party with a Purpose"

Get your free podcast on fundraising effective events - "Party with a Purpose"
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May 13, 2015

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This Kind of Generosity Actually Inhibits Giving By Mike Stickler

“There are huge problems with giving in America today. Huge problems.” -Dr. Brian Kluth

Every church and nonprofit leader knows the truth of that assessment by stewardship expert Brian Kluth. Many factors can account for a lack of generosity in a church or nonprofit organization.

generosity in givingAmong them is what Brian calls “transactional generosity,” which Dr. Kluth defines as “making it all about giving the gift instead of serving the giver.” He says, “[As ministry leaders] we really have been focused on what can we get from people instead of what do we want for people. Churches do that, and nonprofits can do that.”

When a church makes giving all about meeting the budget, people measure their generosity not by what the Bible says, but by what the budget says. If the budget is being met, they assume their giving is adequate. That inhibits generosity. But as Dr. Kluth has said, “The budget is a spending plan; it’s never the giving goal.”

But when churches really understand that the goal is to teach people the Word of God and to let their lives be transformed, it’s not just about the transaction, it’s about transformation.

“I went to a church a number of years ago as a senior pastor, and they hadn’t met their budget in four years,” says Dr. Kluth. “And I said, ‘Why do we have budgets we’re not meeting?’ And they said, ‘Well, we’re trying to teach people to give to the budget.’ And I said, ‘Well, I’m the pastor, and we’ll teach people to give because of what the Bible says, not because of what the budget says.’ And for ten years we went way over budget with our giving, because the budget was a spending plan, not the giving goal.”

Brian believes the same applies to nonprofit organizations. “It really becomes about the budget,” he says. “And I know we have to meet our budgets, to do the due diligence, to send out the letters and to have the events and to meet the people and do all that, but I believe we also need to be bringing a transformational generosity message to the people. I think nonprofits and churches can both be instruments to begin to deliver a good message. Giving’s been declining for 40 years, and we’re in a time when people need to be brought a fresh message about the joys of generosity, the joys of trusting God, and of recognizing God as their provider.

What steps could you take to move your organization toward transformational generosity?

You can hear more about Effective Ministry Leadership from Brian Kluth on this week's featured program.

 

 

All information and images property of The Vision Group, Ltd. © 2015 Use, unless expressly given by the Company in writing, is unlawful by U.S. Copyright Law.

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