team meetings

What Size Is Your Rear View Mirror?

Leading a team means that there is a constant tension between learning from our past and preparing for the future. Lead one way and your team grows, lead the other way and your team’s success get’s smaller and smaller as time passes. 

What size is your rear view mirror?.png

When I was taught to drive, I was taught to scan. Scan the road in front of me, check my speed, scan my mirrors and repeat. I was to constantly keep tabs on what was going on around me. 

This same skill could prove itself useful as we lead our teams. In fact, for many of our teams, the most important two questions we can ask when planning or problems solving are: 

  1. What size is our rear view mirror?
  2. What size is our windshield? 

The answers to those two questions can define a lot for your team, because the direction you are looking decides whether you are reacting to the future or recreating the past. 

“The direction you are looking decides whether you are reacting to the future or recreating the past.”
— StevenJBarker

Rear View Mirror

There is this great little line on the side mirrors of vehicles in the US, Canada and India. It says  “Objects in mirror are closer then they appear.” In a vehicle this warning exist because the mirrors’ convexity gives a useful field of view, but it also makes each object appear smaller. 

The same is true when we look into our own history. It can feel like we see more clearly when looking back on our story, almost as if we can tell exactly why something worked or failed. In reality we aren’t that perceptive. Objects in our memory may be bigger or smaller then we remember. 

We might look back at our history and think that our small group ministry exploded because we went through a particular study. While that might be partly true, it likely isn’t the only reason. And if we stare for to long we eventually think the solution to our current problem is that we haven’t adequately recreated the past. 


A large, unobstructed windshield on the other hand is exactly what we need. A clear line of vision down the road at the obstacles that might keep us from reaching our goals. Each obstacle is just that, a puzzle that needs to be solved in order to keep the team moving forward and accomplishing our goals. 

It seems obvious but if your team is going to keep moving forward you need to spend more time looking forward. More time reacting the the future, less time recreating the past. 

No one would ever build a car that had a bigger rear view mirror than windshield, right? Don’t let your team fall into the same trap. 

Question of the day: If you had to grade your team, which is bigger? Your windshield or your rear view mirror? 

Removing the Information Crevice Between Staff & Volunteers

Sometimes it can be difficult to build an organization of people who are unavailable. Not unavailable in a negative sense but unavailable as in, they wear many hats, and volunteering on your team is only one of them. That very often means they aren’t available for staff meetings or planning meetings or many meetings at all…but they are still committed.

So what do you do?

How do you remove the information crevice between staff and volunteers? 

This hole unintentionally exists and it’s a problem we deal with on a regular basis. For our church this was especially complicated when we transitioned to becoming a multi campus church. How would we ensure that each campus had the information it needed to create a fantastic weekend experience every single weekend

An email wouldn’t cut it. 

So, we introduced a conference call into the mix.


This allowed us to clearly communicate our game plan EVERY weekend without being in the same room. Here are the four simple steps we took to implementing this new tool with our team. 

1. Sign up for

Uberconference is an online conference call service that really is conference calling of the 21st century. It has a visual interface that allows you to see who is speaking (in case you don’t recognize their voice), a powerful per-caller control to mute the guy with all the background noise (sorry Max) and you can even turn on pin-less access so no one has to remember some random pin number to get access. I seriously love this service, and that don't pay me to say that either. 

2. Turn on Auto-Dial

By entering everyone’s number ahead of time we can allow the system to auto dial everyone at the same time so there is no waiting for that one person to finally get on the call (or forget about it for that matter). 

3. Hit Record

By recording the call we can share the entire conversation, or in this case, the entire "worship service walk through" with anyone not present on the call (aka the rest of the team that has other day jobs). This allows them to hear what otherwise would be difficult to explain in email. 

4. Share It All

Once the call is finished we share the call recording, the script and the service plan with the entire team via Azendoo. This allows our volunteer and part time staff to review the material and ask questions before Sunday. 

Sharing information in an organization like the church creates trust and communicates value.
— StevenJBarker

Ultimately sharing information in an organization like the church creates trust and communicates value. For us, conference calls have been one of the those tools that’s helped us stay flexible and on the same page, no matter where we are. 

Question of the day: What tools do you use to stay on the same page with your staff and volunteers? 

One No Brainer Way To Build Your Organization's Culture

Culture is one of those ambiguous words we throw our organization. As leaders we have a sense of what we want it to be. We want a healthy culture. We want our staff and volunteers to consider our place a great place to work. But if a healthy culture is this secret sauce, how do we make sure everyone in our organization knows the recipe? 

Secret Sauce

Every team is different, every organization is more so. What worked at one doesn’t always work at the next. That means any time I’ve joined a new team I’ve had to spend some time observing. How does this team make decision? What do they say is most important? What’s actually most important?

Understanding how the new team works is critical to being able to survive and then thrive in the new environment.

So if that’s what it means to join a team, what does that mean for you as a team and/or organizational leader? 

It means that you’re rules of engagement have to be crystal clear. 

Most organizations now days have some form of a document that lists it’s mission, vision and values. There have been thousands of books and articles written on the importance of outlining these steering statements. And they're right. They are incredibly important. It’s even more important then that your organization is living out these statements. 

Enter, the no brainer way to build your organization's culture.

  1. Celebrate when people are living it out your mission, vision and values. 

Share their actions as crystal clear, real life examples of what it means to live out your organizational values. Have a party, give out awards. Show the rest of your organization the people and situations that exemplify who you are as an organization. These steering statements can’t just be words in a document some where. These are the things we value, the criteria by which we make decisions, the standard we hold each other to. 

Find a way to celebrate the examples you have. Look for opportunities to share real life stories that highlight these values (try a team email, see "How To Inform & Inspire Your Volunteer Team”). Have parties, share these examples before meetings or gatherings. Look for every opportunity to share to positive realization of what your organization says is most important. 

Without them being lived out, your mission, vision and values are just words on a page. And that’s not benefiting anyone. 

Question of the day: Are your mission, vision, values an accurate recipe for the culture you are trying to create?