Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Effective Evaluation

     Do you ever want to know, "What do the elders think of my work?"  "I wonder if I am in danger of being fired."  "Is our preacher happy?"  "What do the other elders think of me?"  "Am I overbearing?"  "Do I communicate that I care about my fellow elders and the church?"

     How would it be to have a relationship where all parties are comfortable in the knowledge that others will share what information is helpful, giving compliments when things are going well and sharing concerns when there are irritations or questions?  One way to develop this is to have ongoing, effective evaluation.

     This does not start with an evaluation.  It starts with:
  1. Helpful rules for discussion.  Discussion Guidelines with Commentary .
  2. Practice.  Have you scheduled classes and/or workshops to grow in honest communication?  Does your leadership group plan for times to improve communication and exercises to strengthen your ability and habits of "speaking the truth in love"?
   Trying to evaluate and communicate on powerful and delicate topics without laying a good foundation is like a high school football team trying to play in the Super Bowl before they have done calisthenics, practiced blocking and tackling, run plays, scheduled scrimmages with themselves and competitors, and seasons of successful football.

...to be continued...

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Eldership Funeral 2

     In an Eldership Funeral, I follow this outline: Eldership Funeral . After leading four of these, here are some blessings I have observed:
  • It is a good time to reflect on lessons learned.
  • It provides an opportunity to finish old business. If there are conflicts in the “old eldership,” they will generally be carried over into the new eldership. Each side will be recruiting the new elders to be on their side.
  • It can be a time to talk about new-elder orientation. How do you plan to get the new elders working effectively with the present eldership? When will you explain the rules for this eldership? Have you thought about and discussed the rules for this eldership?
  • From my observation, one of the most productive things from the first funeral we had with the elders at Berry’s Chapel came when I asked, “Will you let the new elders make a difference? Will they be able to change anything or will they have to do everything the way you have always done it?" Their answer: “They can change some things but there are some things they will not be able to change.”
     My next question: “Will you tell them before they start or surprise them after they are appointed. The “old elders” came up a list of non-negotiable operating procedures for the eldership. They went over them with prospective elders. They told them if they did not agree with these items, they would not do well as an elder at Berry’s Chapel. Here is that list: Standard Operating Procedures, Non-Negotiable Items .

     We recently had an eldership funeral at LaVergne. It is a good time to finish old business and start anew.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Eldership Funeral

     After our elders had been serving at Berry‘s Chapel a little more than two years, the congregation was in the process of selecting additional shepherds. At our February meeting, I asked, “Are you going to have a funeral for the present eldership?”. I was asked to explain.

     It has been my observation that when a church appoints new elders, there is not just one or more in the group but a new eldership, a new group that is different from the one that preceded it. I thought it might be appropriate to have a “funeral” for the old eldership—to recognize the death of that leadership group and to anticipate the “resurrection” of a new group.

     After a brief discussion, I did not hear any more until our March leadership meeting. Our elders, Dennis Crowder, Ron Gambill, and Dennis Makins, told me, “We have decided we want to have an eldership funeral and we want you to preach it.” After some discussion, the date was set for April 3.
After visiting the funeral home with a former elder whose step-father had died, we, along with the youth minister, Jeremy Houck, proceeded to a log cabin in Bell Buckle, Tennessee. After getting settled in for the night, we spent about three hours going over the outline:  Eldership Funeral

     ...to be continued.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Discussion Guidelines # 13

25. Would you be willing to tell what you like about this group process, what is helpful and what is not helpful, and in this way give suggestions for improving future discussions?

This can be one of the most helpful guidelines for the leader as well as for the rest of the group.  If the leader is serious and honest, he or she can model a learning attitude that encourages growth.  I like criticism!  When anyone loves me enough to tell me how I can improve, that person is doing me a favor.  If you find salmonella in my refrigerator and tell me about it, you are not hurting me.  You are helping me.  For a one hour presentation on criticism, you can get my CD, “How to Accept, Invite, and Enjoy Criticism”:  Criticism CD .

When I am leading a meeting, I have the choice of the Amos rule, “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” (Amos 3:3), or the Judges rule, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).  Which rule I choose can make a great difference in the effectiveness of the discussion.

     For the complete list of guidelines:  Discussion Guidelines .

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Discussion Guidelines # 12

..see previous posts on "Guidelines"

23.    May we bring up “old business” if we need to clarify or discuss something further?
    Sometimes a comment is countered by, “We’ve already talked about that.”  If a person isn’t finished with an issue, it may need to be discussed again.

24.    May we have permission to make additional rules, if needed, to help this group be more effective?
    This list is not exhaustive.  Some discussions need fewer guidelines, some more.
    In some meetings that involved anticipated conflict, we had the “no shouting” rule.  As the facilitator I have been told that previous meetings had ended in a shouting match which was hurtful.  It was suggested that I call people to account when they were getting too loud.  I decided not to get into the middle of that group’s conflict.  What we negotiated was that when three people held up their hands when a person was getting louder and louder, I would report to the speaker, “Three people in the group think you getting louder than is helpful for this discussion.”  That helps the group be responsible for itself and keeps me out of the middle of a conflict that doesn’t belong to me.
    In some meetings, we have had the “Why are you leaving?” rule.  When I was informed that this group’s meetings often end in people leaving mad, we worked out the agreement that if people left, they would tell why.  This kept people from assuming that people were leaving angry or letting them know that they were angry and possibly why.
...to be continued...

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Discussion Guidelines # 11

...see previous posts on "Guidelines"

21. Are we aware that some of these rules will probably be broken?  What will we learn about ourselves and leadership when they are broken?
a. By us?
b. By others?
Can we ask and answer the question, “What did you learn from that”?  These guidelines form boundaries that are sometimes difficult to remember and/or difficult to keep.  When we hold ourselves and others accountable to do what we agreed to do, it can be helpful.  If a guideline is not helpful, it can be changed.  Self-reporting is especially commendable and an opportunity to teach and give others permission to analyze themselves in the group process.

22. Will we agree to try to apply these Biblical principles to ourselves before we try to “fix” other people who are in this group or people who are not here? Psalm 139:23,24; 1 Corinthians 9:27; 2 Corinthians 13:5; 2 Corinthians 10:12
This may be one of the most difficult.  I often say it is hard to keep everyone in the room during a class or group session.  I want to jump out the window and bring in a friend or an enemy who needs to hear this more than I do.  “I wish John and Mary were here.  They really need to hear this.  Those folks down the street need this.”  I call this the “me first” principle of Bible study.  The first question I need to ask when studying God’s word or implementing principles that I am learning is, “How does this apply to me?”.

...to be continued...

Friday, June 1, 2012

Discussion Guidelines # 10

...see previous posts on "Guidelines"

19. Will we attend all sessions?  If we must be absent, will we tell the group why?

It is a matter of courtesy to be responsible to a group (class, elder’s meeting, committee meeting).  It takes group energy away from group process when a member is late or absent without explanation.  “I wonder if they are sick, had an accident, forgot, or don’t care about our work?”  This can be eliminated by a call or e-mail:  “I will be fifteen minutes late,” or “I am sick and will be unable to be at tonight’s meeting.”

20. Will we agree to not talk about group business during breaks?
This guideline is especially helpful in groups that are learning experiences in how groups work.  If we talk about group business during breaks, we deprive the rest of the group from our thoughts and ourselves of the wisdom of the rest of the group.  If the meeting is dealing with conflict, it is easier to choose sides and plot destruction by subdividing and talking about others during breaks of ten minutes or two days.

...to be continued...

Monday, April 30, 2012

New Class Available at LaVergne

We will start a new class this Thursday at the LaVergne church of Christ:  Learning to Love my Friend(s).  This is a training class that I have lead with many groups.  We have this class now that includes our elders, staff, and spouses.  We meet in our homes.  I have found it helpful for learning to minister to people and for developing better relationships in the group taking the class.

In our Thursday classes, we plan to do an overview of two sessions each month.  Those attending may want to lead these groups in their congregations.

The titles of the classes:

 1.  Opening Lesson
 2.  My Friend Jesus Understands Me

 3.  My Friend Jesus Understands Me When I Am Tired and Lonely
 4.  My Friend Jesus Understands Me When I Am Tempted
 5.  My Friend Jesus Understands Me When I Am Tired and Lonely
 6.  My Friend Jesus Understands Me When I Am Tempted
 7.  My Friend Jesus Tells Me the Truth
 8.  Jesus Is Willing to Help and Serve Me with Patience
 9.  My Friend Brings Out the Best in Me and Challenges Me to Grow
10.  How Can I Be a Friend to Jesus?

For more information, please go to my web site:  Interim Ministry Classes .

Friday, March 30, 2012

Discussion Guidelines # 9

...see previous posts on "Guidelines"

16.  May others respond to what we say?
       Do I have to have the last word or would it be helpful to get feedback?

17.  When we ask a question, will we be willing to tell why we want to know the answer?
       I may want to know why someone is asking questions.  What are you going to do with the information?  Why are you interested?

18.  May a person decide to quit talking when they choose?
      In most groups, I do not require people to talk.  Some people learn better with their mouths open and others learn better with their mouths closed.  Each person can decide which works best for them without pressure.

...to be continued...

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Discussion Guidelines # 8

...see previous posts on "Guidelines"

13.  If what I say offends or hurts you, will you tell me or will you talk about me to others?
This is a powerful commitment!  Think how assuring it would be if we didn’t have to wonder how we were coming across to others.

14.  If, after a group session is over, you realize that you didn’t get finished, will you bring the matter back to the group and work it out?
This reminds us that we deal with group business in the group.

15.  May we be humble instead of arrogant?  That is, if we don’t know what someone is thinking or feeling, will we ask or will we assume that we know what they are thinking or feeling? Matthew 5:3; 1 Corinthians 2:11
One of my mistakes in communication is attempting to mind-read.  I think I know what you are thinking and act on that assumption.  The only problem is that I don’t know what you are thinking unless you tell me.  The best policy is to ask.

...to be continued...

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Discussion Guidelines # 7

...see previous posts on "Guidelines"

12.  Do we want to have a rule of confidentiality:

a. What we say here stays here?
This is essential if we are to develop a trusting group. Many people assume that elders, preachers, and other leaders will keep confidences. This is where people are often hurt. Assuming is not good communication. Too often Christians don’t keep personal matters confidential. I like to talk about it. What does it mean “What we say here stays here”? What if we discuss the weather or read John 3:16 in the group? Can we not take that out of the group? In our staff meetings at Berry’s Chapel, we developed the “church bulletin rule”: if we talk about something in a staff meeting that we would print in the church bulletin, we can talk about it out of the group. If we wouldn’t print it in the bulletin, we won’t carry it out of the meeting. If there is any question, it is best to check with the person or people to whom the information belongs.

b. Will I take care of myself, telling the group only what I trust them to keep?
After we have established this rule, I encourage new members to doubt that as long as they need to doubt it. Anyone can say what we have just said, “What we say here stays here.” I believe that faith grows through “creative doubt.” Creative doubt is doubt that asks questions and sincerely wants to know the truth. It is my observation that it took about two years in our Third Monday Workshop to establish trust in the group where we could talk about serious, personal issues. After establishing that trust in the core group, new members do not seem to diminish the readiness of group members to discuss what they need to discuss. Since August of 1988, I don’t know of a matter getting out of the group. That’s powerful! That’s encouraging to have that kind of support group.

...to be continued...