Should You Teach Anymore?

I was sitting in a boardroom. We were leading two departments with the staff built for one and I was teaching two completely separate talks every week. The team sat in one of our weekly meetings trying to figure out what to do next, how were we going to keep moving forward?

And then she said it. "Steve, I don't thing you should teach any more. Well, at least not every week." That's a hard thing to say to a guy who does it for a living...shoot, it's a hard thing to hear! But she was right.

should you teach

I couldn't give it the attention I needed to. And how could I expect to get any better as a communicator if I barely had enough time to prepare for next week's talks. That moment made me ask a two questions, questions it's taken me years to answer.

  1. What do I expect to accomplish when I teach?
  2. Am I a more effective speaker than I was a year ago?

You see, we have this unique opportunity. An opportunity every time we hit the stage, to change peoples lives. We challenge them to think differently, to wake up tomorrow and to be different than they were on Friday. We've got the opportunity to help them see themselves differently.

As preachers, we have an opportunity to help them understand that they are a child of God, the God of the universe! The God who told the lights to come on and the birds to fly and the man to stand up and walk. We've got an opportunity to change the way they look at the world around them. To hand them glasses that see pain, hurt and beauty in a way they haven't seen before.

The challenge? You've only got 30 minutes to do it. 

It's exciting to think about the possibilities, about what God is planning on doing in the lives of your audience. But when you stop to think about the window of opportunity you have, I've got to be honest, I'm scared that if I blink I'll miss it.

Bill Hybels said that the church is the hope of the world.  He's right. The church is what Christ left behind to keep the ball rolling. And after hundreds of years of habit, people are expecting us to gather together once a week and listen to the preacher do his thing. So we better make it GREAT! If the church is going to be the hope of the world, each part is going to need to function to it’s fullest.

  •  Leaders need to be great leaders,
  • Teachers need to be great teachers,
  • Care givers need to be great care givers,
  • Group leaders need to be great group leaders,
  • Neighbors need to be great neighbors.

If we are going to honor those before us as well as those we serve we must be great. We must put all of our effort into fulfilling our role completely!

We've got to ask ourselves those two questions: 

  1. What do I expect to accomplish when I teach?
  2. Am I a more effective speaker than I was a year ago?

What Twitter Can Teach Us About Empowering Volunteers

There is something captivating by a 140 character limit. How can something so restricting function as a means to communication? But, it undoubtably works. 

Like many leaders, excellence is important to me. Not many of us dream of a team functioning at half speed. 

But I can’t be with all our teams all of the time, I must release the plan and the execution of the plan to my team every week. How can I ensure their success if I can’t be with them to help guide the way? 

One option is to implement feedback loops. Many teams do this in the form of weekly evaluations…but in reality it’s a post mortem. It doesn’t necessarily help team members make decisions in the moment. 

How much faster could your organization move if you focused more on clear parameters and clear objectives? These two limiters are ultimately the two most important pieces of information you can give an person in your organization (paid or volunteer).

  1. What are the “rules of engagement”? 
  2. What do we want to accomplish? 

Granted more detail can come, but that details is useless if it doesn’t have a home in those two questions. 

Let me give you an example:

The kids teams at our campuses are run completely by volunteers, which means we don’t have the weekday opportunities to review and work out “the plan”. Our entire team has full time jobs and can only devote a limited amount of time to our endeavor.

So, how do we communicate what is most important to this team? We make it short and sweet.

We say: no matter what you do, on any given Sunday we must ensure that every child

  • is known (by an adult & a peer),
  • understands the bottom line lesson for the day.

That means, if they are unsure of what’s most important in a given situation they can refer back to that specific statement. 

What if the morning is getting off to a slow start? What should they do? First, priority…make a new friend. Introduce themselves. Then introduce their new friend to another child. 

What if their group time is going off on a tangent? They know they are going to start working their way back to the bottom line. 

Clarity comes when we are clear and direct. More detail may be great for conversation, discussion and training but it has to be effective at a moments notice. 

140 characters. Tell me what you need from me. Keep it short and to the point.

Which one of your teams currently has the most clarity? Share in the comments, on Twitter or Facebook. 

Azendoo Will Flatten Your Volunteer Organization [Tool Review]

Flatter is faster, further reaching and most effective in a growing organization.

We know that in order for this organization to grow we need more people. We need more people owning the vision and moving us forward. As a leader this is invigorating and frightening. We want to climb the next hill, but the more we people involve the more "chefs we have in the kitchen". We fear that leaders will start off misaligned and eventually go rogue. We fear that eventually all we will be doing is fixing other people's mistakes and putting out fires. Not very exciting for you and me. Not really what we signed up for.

So here is the trick to going faster, further and being most effective when your organization is growing: flatness.

The secret to flatness is information and boundaries. As you've probably already experienced, one of the difficulties in running a volunteer organization is the balance between control and speed. We feel responsible for excellence in our organizations but how do we accomplish that promptly and appropriately? Over the last number of months I've been experimenting with a tool to help flatten our volunteer organization structure and it's working.  It's called Azendoo (link).



Azendoo groups all your teamwork in one place so that you can plan, share and get organized, together.




Azendoo has proven to be a fantastic tool for sharing information and engaging our volunteer teams. We've put information in the hands of high capacity volunteers so that they can make the best decision on the ground. There is one essential ingredient necessary when you push decision making to the lowest possible level in your organization. You've got to be absolutely sure you are playing from the same playbook. 


Azendoo also won Evernote's Best Multi-Platform App 



In Patrick Lencioni's book "The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business" [Link], he mentions 6 questions a team must answer:
  1. Why do we exist?

  2. How do we behave?

  3. What do we do?

  4. How will we succeed?

  5. What is most important, right now?

  6. Who must do what?

All 6 questions are important, but most important to what we are trying to accomplish is number 5. As a leader, you need to be able to point back to what is most important right now. In fact, as you manage a team, your most important job is to engage and energize you team to accomplish what's most important right now. 

Give you team the information they need to be the fastest, furthest reaching, most efficient team they can be. Then, get out of the way...

To get you started, I've put together a list of 5 tips to getting the most out Azendoo. You can download it for free below.