Archives For Deborah Ike

Planning Checklist

If you’re planning an event and expect two to three times the number of attendees than you normally have on a Sunday, there are several extra items you’ll need to consider. These tips come from lessons learned during meetings I’ve conducted after big events.

#1 – Traffic

If you’re expecting high traffic volume for this event and want to close part of a road to outside traffic, coordinate with local police/transportation authorities for road closures. This may require applying for permits, so make sure you know the timing involved in submitting and receiving approval on those permits for your area. Also, consider requesting officers to direct traffic before and after the event.

#2 – Parking

All those cars need a place to hang out during the event. Consider how many attendees, staff, and volunteers you expect versus how many parking spaces you have available.

If demand exceeds supply, talk with local businesses or property owners about possibly using their parking lots during the event.

#3 – Security and emergency preparedness

We don’t like to think this way, but it is possible you’ll have an emergency at your event. An attendee may become seriously ill,…

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You’ve got a big event coming up. It involves multiple ministry departments, the whole church is invited, and you’re the staff member charged with organizing this whole effort. You know this will require lots of coordination and communication. You might use email, Slack, RocoCPM, or another planning tool, but you’ll still need a few event-planning meetings.

Ugh. Meetings.

Now, before you get too discouraged – it is possible to have productive meetings.

Imagine a meeting where you walk away energized, enthusiastic, and ready to make some serious progress. No, that’s not a mythical scenario. In fact, I’ve experienced this type of meeting myself.

So, what’s the secret sauce to a successful meeting? Here you go . . .

Ingredient #1: The Facilitator

Not to be confused with The Terminator, a skilled meeting facilitator has a few tricks up her sleeve.

She prepared for the meeting.

This sounds simple, but I’m often surprised by how many people show up for a meeting and expect to magically be productive.

This isn’t the mindset of a good facilitator.

Instead, she . . .

  • Knows the purpose of the meeting
  • Developed and sent out an agenda beforehand
  • Made sure each person needed to accomplish…

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One way to prevent burning out in ministry is to do fewer things you’re not gifted to do. Notice the word “fewer” in that first sentence. I can’t design graphics to save my life, but sometimes I have to make it happen. However, for the really important projects, I hire a graphic designer so my books and website don’t look ridiculous.

Maybe you’ve found yourself dealing with similar situations.

If you’re better at preaching, teaching, and counseling but freeze up anytime someone mentions developing a plan or a budget . . . you need an administrator.

Perhaps I’m a bit biased since I once worked in a ministry’s finance department, but I think church administration folks are awesome! They keep many wheels turning in the background that support what happens on stage and at the altar each week. If you’re a pastor without someone (nor a team of people) filling the church administration role, you’re likely feeling the strain from trying to do something you neither enjoy or are gifted to do.

Church administrators tend to be misunderstood members of the church team, so I think it’s time for some myth busting.

Myth #1:…

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If you have just enough volunteers to get by today, what will happen when your church experiences a growth spurt? Now is the time to start laying the groundwork for a strong volunteer team.

You might be thinking,

“We don’t have enough people staying committed to serve now. How are we supposed to plan for the future?”

Fair question.

First off, you’ve got to stop the bleeding.

That means learning why volunteers keep drifting in and out of serving.

Here’s how:

  • Conduct an anonymous survey (you can quickly build one for free at and email it to current and previous volunteers) using a free set of Volunteer Survey Questions.
  • Talk with people who used to volunteer and, without judgment or accusations, ask why they stopped.
  • Talk with your staff and see if they know why people have stopped serving.

You’ve got to identify the problems before you can fix them.

Start addressing those issues right away.

Issue: Volunteers received multiple requests from different staff members to serve in various roles at the same event and got frustrated by the lack of coordination.

Solution: Use your church management system (ChMS), or a spreadsheet…

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As your church grows, your ability to know everyone’s name and story shrinks. Sure, there are still many people you know who’ve been at your church for years. However, if you want to have the same or greater impact on your congregation as it grows, then you need to focus on the number of people you can mentor and pour into on a deeper level. As Andy Stanley says, “Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.”

Those you work alongside each day are the people within your immediate sphere of influence. As you mentor and disciple them, they can have a similar impact on those within their immediate sphere of influence such as teens in youth group, volunteers, members of their small group, and more. Jesus modeled this for us when he developed a core team of apostles who then spread the Gospel with the known world. He entrusted the greatest and most important message of all time with these men.

Here are three simple yet powerful ways to disciple your team:

#1 – Be an example

The people you lead are watching you.

They’re watching how you handle a…

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The first step in growing your church while preventing burnout is conducting a heart check. Now, I’m not referring to your physical heart.  (Although if you’re already 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 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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Every week across the country, people put their hard-earned money into an offering plate as it’s passed down the aisle. There’s an implicit trust they place in church leaders to use that money wisely and with integrity. Church finance teams need to put certain safeguards in place to honor and maintain that trust.

Tip 1: Require at least three people to be present while counting the offering

Although text-to-give and online giving are becoming more popular, many people still give cash or checks. If you have three or more individuals present while counting the offering, it’s much harder for any one person to steal from the congregation.

Also, consider the reputation of the people counting the offering. If there’s ever a question about the amount deposited or concerns about the totals, it’s easier to provide evidence that the amounts were accurate when multiple people signed off during the counting process.

Tip 2: Clearly define levels of financial authority

Document and communicate who has authority to do the following:

  • Sign checks (and at what amounts)
  • Incur debt on behalf of the church
  • Establish new bank accounts
  • Use church debit/credit cards (for what types of purchases and at…

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Vision is imperative. Senior pastors and church leaders need to know where they’re leading the church. A clear vision provides direction, motivation, and filters for decisions. Clearly communicating the vision fuses incredible momentum into a church.


Have you ever seen a vision become an idol?

Not enough cash flow to fund the vision and no plan to get there? We can’t slow down to make a plan, so just keep pressing onward. 

Are staff members exhausted from consistently working evenings and weekends? Are families suffering from not having much time together? We value our staff members and their families, but this is the price we’re going to pay to make this vision a reality. After all, we’re reaching people with the Gospel.

Is this choice a bit questionable or on the edge of being unethical? Well, it’ll get us more influence or will open doors and we’ll reach more people so it’s worth it.

Unfortunately, these examples are based on real-life situations.

I’m convinced those involved had good intentions. They wanted to reach people with the Gospel and do what they felt God had placed on their hearts. Their efforts bore a lot of healthy fruit. Unfortunately, their efforts bulldozed over…

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In a few days, we’ll sit down to a Thanksgiving meal. Some will travel to see extended family while others may enjoy the celebration at home. As we prepare the turkeys, pies, and way too many side dishes, I wanted to share several tools I’m grateful we have at our disposal. These help us share the Gospel and make disciples in our communities and around the world.

#1 – The ability to communicate to so many

We can send mass emails out to those in our congregations, post a sermon video on our website and promote it via social media, receive prayer requests through our church’s mobile application, and much more.

We live in an age where we can, in an instant, send a message that can reach people around the world. That provides both an incredible opportunity and a great responsibility for how we leverage those communication tools.

#2 – The wealth of information and ideas online

I often conduct research for an article I’m writing or program I’m developing. With so many church and business leaders now having their own blogs and podcasts, we can quickly learn from those who’ve been there/done that in…

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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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