Archives For Deborah Ike

I grew up in Oklahoma, known as “Tornado Alley.” Taking cover during the spring as the sirens went off was pretty normal for us. We had a few close calls but thankfully, our home never suffered damage from a tornado.

However, I’ve gone out with volunteers from my church to help clean up after a tornado. We found bricks from a family’s home a few football field lengths away from where their home once stood. Toys, pictures, pieces of furniture, and more were scattered across their property. Thankfully, they all made it through without any severe injuries.

Natural disasters can wreak havoc on a community.

Lives lost.

People injured.

Homes and businesses destroyed.

As a church leader, not only do you need to protect your home but you also need to protect your church facility and consider how your congregation will serve the community.

Here are a few tips on how to prepare before a natural disaster strikes:

Tip #1: Know the risks in your area

In Oklahoma, we all knew when tornado season began. We stayed informed on the weather forecast and planned accordingly if forecasters predicted possible storms.

There are probably natural disasters that are common in your part of the…

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I’ll admit, I don’t know much about cars. I can refill the windshield wiper fluid and check the tire pressure, but that’s about the extent of my expertise. However, I do know you’re supposed to get the oil changed and tires rotated on a regular basis. If I neglect those simple maintenance activities, my car may break down and then I’m stuck with a hefty repair bill.

Your email inbox, to-do list, and schedule are a bit like my car. They need consistent attention and maintenance to serve you well. If we neglect that upkeep, we’ll have hours of catch-up work to do and probably some unhappy people.

Maintenance isn’t exciting or fun, but it prevents a lot of headaches down the road. Here are a few key maintenance activities that, done consistently, can help you progress toward achieving your vision:

Maintenance Activity #1: Own your schedule

You are the only person who truly decides how to spend your time. Yes, other people have a say but you’re the only one really responsible. If you’re constantly in meetings and replying to messages, you’ll never get your own work done (much less have time to…

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It’s easy to see how a scattershot or “try everything to see what works” approach can happen. After all, we want to reach as many people as possible with the Gospel. We want to see lives changed and families restored, so we try many different methods to reach people.

  • More services
  • Small groups
  • Sermon podcasts
  • Marriage seminars
  • Youth events
  • Thanksgiving outreaches
  • …and more

None of these efforts are bad or necessarily wrong.  However, it’s important to consider whether it makes sense to pursue several of these all at once.

In his book, How The Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In, Jim Collins lays out five stages of decline in organizations.

One of the stages is the “Undisciplined Pursuit of More.” He writes, “Companies in Stage 2 stray from the disciplined creativity that led them to greatness in the first place, making undisciplined leaps into areas where they cannot be great or growing faster than they can achieve with excellence, or both.”

How does this apply in the church world?

Let’s say your church is running along well with two Sunday services, weekly small groups, and about…

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The first step in growing your church while preventing burnout is conducting a heart check. Not your physical heart, although if you’re really burned out that may not be a bad idea. I’m talking about your emotional, spiritual heart.

What’s motivating you?

What’s motivating within the context of church can get complicated.

We’re working to serve God and people.

You’re preparing a sermon, leading a small group, running the lights and sound, or other tasks that contribute to telling people about Christ. Sometimes we can get so blinded by doing work for God that we neglect our relationship with God. That’s dangerous and can lead to the moral failures we’ve seen in the church lately or pastors/church staff burning out and leaving.

How do you conduct a heart check? Here are several areas to consider:

#1 – When did you last spend time in prayer and reading the Word that wasn’t for preparation of a sermon or other work-related activity?

We all need time with God that’s simply for the purpose of listening, learning, and enjoying his presence. It’s easy to try and justify not having personal time with God if you’ve already spent several…

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Before we moved, I attended the same church for about 13 years. I started serving early on by passing the offering bucket each week and then became a greeter. Eventually, church staff asked me to take on a few leadership roles.

Volunteering at my church helped me connect with my church family. I made several great friends whom I continue to stay in touch with today. However, while I enjoyed serving and usually said, “yes” to requests to volunteer, there were times when I stepped away from serving.

You may run into this with your volunteers.

A long-time volunteer may tell you he needs a break and wants to step down in a few weeks.

Your most dependable leader in the nursery may say she’s ready to move to another ministry area.

While this can be frustrating and discouraging, it’s something you need to be prepared to handle.

Why do dedicated volunteers fade away or quit?

Some reasons have nothing to do with the church:

  • John just got a promotion at work and needs to focus more energy in his new job until he’s got those new responsibilities under control.
  • Susan just started a…

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Healthy relationships matter…

You can implement the best time management strategies known to mankind.

You can preach a masterful sermon or enthrall a room of preteens with a Biblical message.

You can have a staff of extremely talented individuals who create the best worship sets, graphics, and social media engagement.

You can have or do all of these things and still have an unhealthy church if you don’t have healthy relationships.

Don’t believe me?

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.” – 1 Corinthians 13:1-7

  • Speaking well
  • Prophesying
  • Having incredible knowledge
  • Having faith that moves mountains
  • Giving everything you own to the poor
  • Giving up your very life

All of these talents and offerings are worthless without…

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Leadership roles come with great responsibility and the burden of knowing your decisions can have a significant impact on people’s lives. Serving in leadership within the church raises the stakes as we’re seeking to lead people into a relationship with Christ and help them grow in their faith.

If you’re not the point leader, you have the opportunity to serve the person who does carry that responsibility. As a leader it’s a wonderful feeling to know your team has your back and is working faithfully.

Here are 5 statements that can help your leader sleep better tonight:

Statement #1: Let me handle that for you

Maybe your boss isn’t good at delegation. He remembers what it was like to do (or at least try to do) everything and has a hard time letting go. The next time he mentions needing to do a task he doesn’t really need to do, offer to take that responsibility off his plate.

Statement #2: I’ve noticed this issue and have a few ideas for how to handle it

Leaders love problem-solvers. They especially appreciate it when a team member sees the issue, comes up with 2-3 ways to fix it, and…

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Do people respect you more or less the closer they get to you?  This is a question I’ve been pondering lately. We all have leaders we admire or respect from a distance. It could be a pastor, a business executive, a non-profit leader, an author, etc. We’ve learned from their preaching, writing, or speeches. We’ve seen the fruit of their ministry or business and admire their impact.

However, we’ve also heard of leaders who looked great from afar but led inner lives of turmoil. Maybe they got caught in an affair, made poor financial decisions, or their staff is exhausted from consistent stress and long hours. These leaders seem like they have it all together – if you don’t look too closely or get into their inner circle.

How does this happen? More importantly, how do we prevent it from happening to us as leaders?

How does this happen? Here are a few ideas:

#1 – We live in a culture that reveres and desires celebrities

We want to follow someone. Look at reality television or the gossip magazines at the checkout counter. We’ve built entire industries around seeking to know the intimate details of people we’ll never…

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First Impressions Matter_ 5 Areas to

Have you ever sold a home? Do you remember the realtor walking through your house? I’m guessing your to-do list started growing. New furniture arrangements, touch-up painting, de-cluttering, and extremely detailed cleaning. That’s what I’ve been working on lately and it’s exhausting! My home is in great shape but I’ve lived here for eight years and stopped noticing the little scuff marks on the walls ages ago. I didn’t care that the extra sofa in my living room made it look a bit small or that my kitchen island doubled as a mailroom.

I’ve had to put myself in the shoes of potential buyers and look at my home with fresh eyes. As a result, I’ve wiped down doors, touched up paint, removed some clutter, and did some spring cleaning before spring even arrived.

Our church buildings can feel the same way as our homes. We get comfortable and familiar with our surroundings. Before you know it, you can’t see the little hand prints in the toddlers’ room or the chipped tiles in the foyer. Maybe there are a few more cracks in the sidewalk than last year or…

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EXPEDITIONTechnology can either hurt your message (by being outdated and irrelevant) or can support ministry (by being up-to-date and used wisely).  People in your community will find your church, and get their first impression of you, based on your church website.  Your congregation will stay connected with their small groups via social media and will sign up for church events through your church management software.  This ever-evolving use of technology for ministry requires regular maintenance and continuous education.  Thankfully, staying up-to-date doesn’t have to be terribly complicated.

Here are several tips to consider as your leverage technology for ministry:

#1: Store electronic documents on a network or cloud account

Saving church documents onto personal (or even work) computers can lead to significant issues. What happens when an employee who was using a personal laptop for work leaves their job? Would all the documents, records, and template they’d created be lost to your church? What if a hard drive crashes or a computer is stolen? All of that data is gone forever. Store important documents on a central, church-owned location to protect your resources.

#2: To BYOC or not to BYOC?

Will you require employees to “bring your own…

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church_risks_cover_reduced_layers1Risk.  It’s probably not the most fun topic to discuss – no one likes to think about the bad things that could happen to your church.  However, we’ve all heard of churches who’ve had horrible things occur within their congregations.  Natural disasters, financial mismanagement, abuse, or a PR fiasco can derail the ministry God has entrusted to you within a very short period of time.  In light of those facts, it’s simply using wisdom to carefully consider what could go wrong so you can take appropriate actions now to prevent those risks or at least lessen their impact.

This is a topic I’m very passionate about because so many of these risks are preventable.  These events can seriously hurt the people we’re trying to serve and can erode the trust you’ve so diligently tried to earn.  Thankfully, the folks over at Church Community Builder think this is an important topic as well.  We’ve co-authored a new eBook aptly titled, “Are You Putting Your Church At Risk? 10 Potential Threats That Can Derail Your Ministry.”

This eBook is a free resource and is the first in a new series from CCB for Executive…

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Ready is a Myth

By Deborah Ike

ReadyWhen was the last time you felt completely prepared, fully equipped and totally supplied with everything you needed for a big endeavor? When was the last time you really felt ready?

Maybe I should rephrase that: Have you ever felt completely, unequivocally ready?

No? Well, then what’s wrong with you?! Everyone launching out into the next big thing knows they should wait until they’re completely ready before they move forward, right?

Yeah, I wish… As a project manager and Type-A personality, I would love to find that place of complete preparation. Unfortunately, I think that place is at the end of a rainbow with a pot of gold and a herd of unicorns. I’ve never felt completely ready before launching something new.

Does that mean we chuck all planning out the window and just wing it? No, that approach almost guarantees disaster. Planning and careful preparation are still important, but we can’t place all our confidence in our ability to predict every possible scenario. This is where the powerful combination of faith and planning comes into play. Anytime we feel God leading us in a new direction – whether that’s launching a church, starting…

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