Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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How to Live a Life of Productivity Through Effective Planning

Usually when I talk to people, they tell me that they are busy, very busy.  But it’s the rare person that will tell you that they are happy with how much they get done each day or week. How can we be more effective in getting our work done, no matter what that work is? In other words, how can we be more productive? To do so, we often work more hours. I know that’s what I used to do. I would often be the one turning on the lights on my floor at work in the morning. I worked more than 55 hours a week for years. But working longer or harder doesn’t necessarily mean that we are more productive. We end up getting tired and our productivity actually falls. Activity doesn’t always translate into results.

Over the past few years, I’ve read three excellent books on the subject of productivity. Below are my reviews of these books along with some helpful quotes. I hope that these are a benefit to you.

What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms The Way You Get Things Done by Matt Perman and a link to 25 quotes.

How to Get Unstuck: Breaking Free From Barriers to Your Productivity by Matt Perman

Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity by Tim Challies and 20 quotes that I found helpful.

Looking back, my busiest time took place when I was going to seminary while working full-time as a manager in a Fortune 50 organization, and serving as a leader in my church. Seminary took about 20 hours a week, work 50+, and I often handled special assignments in my role as a leader at church. I had so many commitments and due dates, I really needed to stay on top of things effectively. There are many ways of doing this. For example, Tim Challies recommends using a tool such as Evernote. I’ve found that a simple “To Do” or “Priorities” list in a Word document worked best for me. My Dad is a list maker, and perhaps that’s where I picked up this habit.

Here are a few thoughts on my major areas of responsibility during those busy times and how I tried to stay on top of things: Continue reading


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How to Move Your Church Forward Through Effective Planning

I was a leader in a Fortune 50 organization for nearly 38 years, and I’ve been in a leadership position at our church for more than 22 years. I’ve found that effective annual planning will help move your organization forward, whether it is a Fortune 50 organization, a church, non-profit, etc. If you don’t have a plan mapped back to your church vision and mission, you may end up just treading water, not making any progress. Or, each ministry may do their own thing, without connection to the overall direction that the church is heading. And, without a plan, how do you know whether you are being successful or not?
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that you run your church like a business. But I do think there are things we can learn from the business world to help our churches be more effective organizations.
A church is different because its mission is different from a Fortune 50 organization. Some may say that the mission of the church is what is referred to as the Great Commission, which is found in Matthew 28: 18-20:  And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
While many may say that Jesus’ primary emphasis in the Great Commission is evangelism, it is actually to make disciples. Making disciples includes evangelism, but it includes so much more than evangelism. If we take a look at this passage, we see that the Great Commission includes baptizing, teaching and sending. The Great Commission is a call to the local church.
A church is also called to do the “ordinary” work of ministry, as Michael Horton referred to in his book Ordinary. He wrote “CNN will not be showing up at a church that is simply trusting God to do extraordinary things through his ordinary means of grace delivered by ordinary servants. But God will.”
Given that a church is different from other organizations, what can it do to make sure it is moving forward and not just going through the motions? Here are 4 thoughts for you to consider:

  1. Annual Planning Session. Hold an annual planning session in the fall. Although not convenient, I would suggest that the leadership team take an entire Saturday to do this. The leaders should prepare in advance of the meeting to make good use of the time. An agenda should be developed and someone assigned to be the meeting facilitator to help the meeting stay on schedule and focus. The planning session can address the following items:
    • What will be the emphasis for the church the following year? For example, will the church continue with the current vision, or does the vision need to be refreshed?
    • Develop high-level church goals to align with the vision. Consideration should be given to aligning the preaching series (topical, books of the bible) that the pastor will be preaching, or the studies that the men and women will be doing, with the goals.
    • What ministries, programs or events will the church be holding in the following year. For example, will the church have:
  • Vacation Bible School
  • Mission trips
  • Financial Peace University classes
  • Concerts
  • Conferences
  • Outreaches
  • Christmas Banquet
  • Leadership retreats
  • Congregational fellowship events (progressive dinner, picnics, etc.)
  1. Develop Ministry Goals. Each of the major ministries in the church should develop their plans and budgets in alignment with the overall church vision and annual goals. The goals and budgets should be submitted to the leadership team, or a designee, such as an Executive Pastor.
  2. Communicate, communicate, communicate. The vision and goals that have been established should be communicated to the congregation when established, with progress updates given throughout the year. This will help connect the entire congregation with the work of the church and build excitement for where the church is going.
  3. Quarterly Leadership Team Meetings. Quarterly leadership team meetings should be held to review progress of the goals that were established. In larger churches, individual staff members may be asked to establish goals for their areas of responsibility. In some cases, their performance on these goals may be taken into consideration during their annual performance review.

These are just 4 thoughts on how your church can use effective planning to help assure that it continues to move forward. What other thoughts do you have to add to this list?