Month: April 2010

Raising the Bar

Recently, New Life Church was accepted as a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. I know that sounds as exciting as a root canal, but it is a big deal to me. ECFA sets very high standards for membership and only a handful of churches even bother trying to meet the requirements.

When I came to New Life in 2007, we did not have the internal structures or policies to be a member, but we were determined to make the changes necessary to hit the mark. The first thing we did was change the way decisions were made about spending money. We had always done a yearly audit, but we then added a purchase order system, a more detailed budget and we changed our elder structure. Under the old system, the Senior Pastor had a lot of autonomous, independent spending authority, but under our new system, spending decisions are made as a team with a lot more accountability from elders who are not a part of the staff.

Why did I make all these changes? The old system was not corrupt or necessarily broken. I could have continued with the status quo and no one would have been alarmed or concerned. The reason is simple. I want to be able to stand in front of our fellowship and challenge everyone to give and for them to know that we are operating with complete integrity and maintaining the highest standards available.

This removes all suspicion and brings everything into the light for all to see. Our finances are posted at www.ecfa.org and will be updated regularly. I want people to know we are committed to being good stewards, living below our means and giving generously at every opportunity. These are the principles we live by in the Boyd house and I want the same principles to apply at the church I lead.

Check out the website and give me your opinion. Is this important to you as a New Lifer? Does this help clear up any confusion or is it no big deal?

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Phil, Family and Covenant

Life is better when there is someone to celebrate all the victories with you. Phil Mickelson just won his third Master’s golf tournament and I have seen all three. The first one was great because it was his first and it got the proverbial monkey off his back as “the best golfer to never win the big one.” However, the third one made me teary and I am not a man who cries very often. I realized that life is better when the people we love are there to celebrate with us.

Phil’s wife, Amy, almost did not see this victory. She is battling breast cancer and the announcers said she traveled to Augusta, Georgia and the tournament under great distress to watch her husband compete. At the 18th green, she stood with family and her two daughters and watched Phil drain a birdie putt to win his third green jacket. As he embraced her, I realized just how fragile life can be and how wonderful it is to share the highs and lows with people who really love you.

I am a sports fan but I am a bigger fan of family. I love the unbreakable bond of marriage that can withstand anything if we stay committed to God and to one another. Thanks Phil and Amy for reminding all of us today that nothing can separate us from our love for one another and nothing can separate us from the covenant love of God.

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What makes a good meeting?

A good meeting sounds like an oxymoron.  Meetings are normally not the highlight of the day at the office or at the church. People dread them like a root canal and for good reason. Usually, a lot is said, nothing is decided and very little is done after the meeting is over.  Either the meetings need to be cancelled or we need to change the way we do meetings. Let me make four suggestions.

1.    Don’t put anything on the agenda that cannot be debated

Patrick Lencioni wrote a classic book on this idea called, “Death by Meeting.” It should be required reading for anyone who leads. Lencioni compares a great meeting to a great movie – both need tension to be awesome. There are lots of rules that need to be made clear before you launch into a meeting filled with debate. First, all debate must be respectful and never become personal. Throw the grenade in the middle of the table, not at one another. Second, no one can be punished for asking the tough questions. Third, the leader of the meeting must encourage input from everyone in the room, not just the three or four strong personalities who love debate. Often the best ideas come from the people in the meeting who actually think before they speak.

2.    Start on time and be on time

My time is valuable and so is yours. If there is a meeting at 2pm, the proper time to arrive is 1:55pm. I am not a military dictator, but I do think it is rude to arrive late. It is also bad manners to start a meeting late and to go longer than announced. Start on time, be on time and finish on time.

3.    Hold each other accountable for what was decided

Lencioni has another classic book called “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.” He believes most teams have little or no accountability and I agree. Meetings should produce action steps or resolves. Someone in the meeting must take ownership of each decision and be expected to report on the progress after a reasonable time.

4.    Debate in private, support in public

If the team makes a decision that you do not agree with, the time to bring up your concerns is in the meeting and not later while in the break room.  To be clear, the leader of the meeting needs to make sure everyone is heard and all the debate has happened before a decision is made. But once that happens, it is required that everyone own the decision and be willing to defend it publicly.

I must confess I have led a lot of sloppy meetings and I’ve attended many that were a complete waste of sunlight. For those on the team at New Life, I ask them to hold me accountable to practice what I blog. I know I will die someday. I just don’t want to die while sitting in a pointless meeting.

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