4 Ways to Keep Your Team From Going in Circles

4 Nov


So, we’re getting towards the end of the year and for most churches that means two things: Christmas productions and annual planning. Let’s talk about the latter. Annual planning for some teams is about dreaming; It’s exciting and passionate dialogue about what is to come. And then for some teams it’s disappointing. Another year comes and it reminds them that things weren’t accomplished and the same old conversations occur.  Here are 5 ways to keep from going in circles for the next 12 months. 

1. Set short-term and long-term goals

We all know that we need to make goals for the next year. The main thing is making obtainable short-term and long-term goals. There are some things, like creating an all-star worship band, that you won’t be able to do in one year. So, don’t set yourself up for disappointment by making that a one-year goal. On the other hand, don’t create goals that are slam dunks either. One-year goals should be challenging but obtainable. Setting goals isn’t enough, though.

2. Have productive meetings

So, how are you tracking your goals and how are you accountable to them? The obvious but understated answer is productive monthly meetings. Again, that’s productive meetings. Meetings can easily slip into an unproductive and sleepy tradition that is consumed by dates instead of passionate vision and needed accountability. The best book I’ve read on meetings is Death By Meetings written by Patrick Lencioni. Lencioni makes the petition that a lot of people want to just do away with meetings, but in fact, meetings can be some of the greatest time spent in the month if produced correctly. Producing a great agenda for meetings isn’t enough, though.

3. Give opportunity for honest feedback

One of the biggest reasons teams keep going in circles is when team members don’t feel like they can give honest feedback. The entire team needs to be accountable to each other, and the only way for that to happen is if every team member feels like they have a voice on the team. So, make opportunity for it. One way to do that is by sending out a monthly questionnaire/report to your team where they can give you their honest opinion. Secondly, don’t let “getting to the next topic” or “ending on time” take the breath out of a passionate discussion with the team during meetings.

4. Provide the tools to succeed

In today’s technologically-advanced culture, it’s easy to provide free tools for your team that will keep everyone on the same page. The tools that I currently use with my team the most are Evernote and Quip. We also share our calendars through Church Community Builder and Apple Calendar. The more ways your team has to be accountable to tasks, the greater the result will be. You can find dozens of tools right here on Mister Nifty to share with your team.

There is no greater feeling than winning as a team! So set obtainable goals, have productive meetings, give opportunity for honest feedback, and provide tools for your team to succeed. Carry out these four tasks and watch the momentum of your team change over the next year.

Free Online Giving

24 Jul

Free Online Giving

First of all, if your church doesn’t provide online giving, this needs to be at the top of your list for tomorrow! Let me provide a few reasons why online giving is so important for your church:

  1. We live in a cashless society.
  2. Members don’t want to write their card number on an envelope every Sunday.
  3. Recurring giving helps people remember their commitments.
  4. If it takes longer than 40 seconds to give, 80% of people abandon the transaction.

With all of these things in mind, the real question is, who do I use for online giving? Great question. Our first option is FREE! Well, when I say free, I mean $0/mo. There is still a transaction fee, as there is with any service that accepts credit cards. With that in mind let’s look at EasyTithe.com.

EasyTithe blows everyone else out of the water when it comes to value, and it’s the only decent looking mobile/online giving option for free. Here is everything included in the free version:

  • Online Giving
  • Mobile Giving
  • Recurring Giving
  • Event Forms (People can register and pay for events.)
  • Transaction fee of 3% + $.30

You can add Text Giving for $5/mo and a Giving Kiosk for $19/mo. They also have $29/mo (2.6%) and $49/mo (1.99%) plans.

There are many options out there that aren’t free but worth looking into. I would recommend CloverDonations.com and eChurchGiving.com which boasts 10-second giving. Many church management apps (CCB, Fellowship One, etc.) include online giving, but most are complicated and take longer than 40 seconds.

 The Bottom Line: With a free option for online giving, you have no excuse.

Your Study Time Just Got Easier

3 Jul

If you’re like me, you do a lot of studying on your laptop. I especially like this because the copy-and-paste feature has made studying a lot quicker. Whether that’s a good or bad thing, I don’t know, but what I do know is that Biblical study just got a lot easier. 

Up until recently I had used the infamous BibleGateway.com for studying the Bible. One of its greatest features has been parallel comparisons between translations, which the website/app I’m about to mention is doing now as well. The problem with BibleGateway.com is that it had become outdated and ad-driven. This week Bible Gateway released a new website and has released an app in the past year, but not before getting it’s thunder taken away by this fresh website/app that I’ll mention below.

The Bible app in which I’m speaking of was created in 2008 and it quickly became the go-to Bible app, but this past year they released their website which created a perfect work flow for reading and studying the Bible. In your app store you will know it as Bible by Lifechurch.tv. (Which interestingly enough is the church of the well-known speaker Craig Groeschel.) And you know they had to pay a boat full of money for their website URL at Bible.com.

Finally, I haven’t completely given up on BibleGateway.com. I’m actually glad that The Bible App has taken the bar up and created a little competition. Raising the bar means better apps all around for you and me.

3 Things Mister Nifty Loves about The Bible App

  1. The Bible App has done for the Bible what Google did for the search engine.
    • The Bible App has made everything simple on its website and app. When I go to a Bible website, I just want to search the Word. Simple. The Bible App has made it just that.
  2. Since taking over Bible.com, The Bible App has become a one-stop place for Biblical study on any device.
    • The Bible App was doing this before Bible Gateway came out with their app. In fact, Bible Gateway’s app looks like a spittin’ image of its competitor.
  3. Log-in accounts make your study history available on all devices
    • Streaming your information across all of your devices is becoming the standard in the app world. Remember the days (and it wasn’t long ago) when you had to email yourself everything?


Give Your Website a Fresh Look!

11 Mar

Church websites get a bad rap most of the time. There aren’t many leaders that like to spend the expensive hourly rate for a web designer to spruce up their website. So, the church website suffers.

Don’t be fooled, though. Your church website is extremely important. It’s one of the first impressions people come in contact with along with your parking lot attendants, nursery workers, and bulletin. I also can’t stress how important online giving is for your church. (We’ll deal with that in the next post.)  Oh, and get a Facebook page.

WordPress has made the maintenance of websites easy for church administrators. (If you don’t have a web guy.) Today, it’s easy to find themes that incorporate WordPress. The one our church ended up using was MintThemes.com. The cost is definitely not free. Their templates are going for $79, but many competitors are more expensive. They also have themes designed with churches specifically in mind.

Bottom Line:

The Good:

  • $79 will beat any invoice from a website designer. 
  • You get to see what your site looks like before you buy it.

The Bad:

  • $79 isn’t free. If you’d like free, WordPress has some free templates.
  • You do need someone with a little web/FTP knowledge to get your template setup. (MintThemes has a walk-through guide as well.)

Font Squirrel: Best Free Fonts

9 Dec

Site: Fontsquirrel.com
Price: Free

Free fonts aren’t hard to come by. (I’m sure you’ve tried 1001freefonts.com and dafont.com.) But great free fonts are hard to come by. Recently, I came across Fontsquirrel.com, which gives free quality fonts that are also free for commercial use. The website is clean and easy to get around.

Screen Shot 2013-11-25 at 11.26.57 PM

If you know of any more sites that produce quality free fonts, please comment below.


A Culture of Appreciation

2 Dec

A Culture of Appreciation

Thanksgiving is over, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop thanking people. This is especially true if you are a leader in a church or non-profit. In for-profit businesses, people will keep coming to work even if they aren’t noticed. Not always true for those that are volunteering their time week after week. That doesn’t mean that the cause isn’t great. It just means we have to reiterate time and time again how much we appreciate people that volunteer their time.

So, how do we intentionally do that?

1. Create a culture of appreciation

One mass email of appreciation to your team won’t do it. Try to think of ways you can implement appreciation into your system on a regular basis. There’s a pastor that has a party for his volunteers at the end of every year. There’s another church leader who created a team name for those who served to make them feel a part of something special. At our church, we’ve started implementing monthly and annual awards of excellence for those that volunteer their time. It does 2 things: 1) Allows people to feel like their work is appreciated. 2) Allows people to strive for excellence.

2. Go analog over digital

A hand written card or a sincere “Thank you!” will always beat a text, email, or tweet. You know which one you’d rather have. Then, why do we keep sending out mass emails and tweets? When giving appreciation, always go public and personal. We usually get the public part down; A post on Facebook or an announcement from the podium. Personal appreciation is more important than public, though. If people don’t feel that we appreciate them when we’re not in a microphone or on Facebook, they might wonder if we are actually thankful for them or if we just say that about everyone. Yes, have appreciation parties, but don’t forget the power of the personal “thank you”.

3. Keep it fresh

Pizza parties are cool every once in a while, but even free food gets old. Try to shake it up. When I was a kid, my mom had a red plate for special occasions. If I got a good grade on a test or it was my birthday, I got to eat with the red plate. It’s something so small, but it meant the world to me, because I knew that plate was saved for special occasions. What could be a “red plate” for your team? If there is a reserved parking spot at your church, could you let someone who is excelling have it for a month? Try to keep thinking of ways to keep the special from becoming the mundane.

We will never regret saying “thank you”.  It allows people to feel valued. That’s what we all want isn’t it?