What the Celebrity Apprentice Can Teach Us about Church Productivity

I recently had the privilege of guest posting on What’s Best Next on the subject of organizational versus individual effectiveness in the church. As I’ve thought about this mindset shift, one metaphor kept popping into my mind. I omitted it in the guest post for brevity’s sake, but I wanted to share it here.

I like to illustrate organizational effectiveness with one of the most oddly hilarious shows on television: the Celebrity Apprentice. It’s a garish, over-the-top, drama-filled masterpiece of out-of-context editing – but it’s also a great way to talk about church productivity.
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The Gospel is the Cure for Dream-Killing Procrastination

Procrastination takes many forms.

Sometimes it’s surfing the internet to avoid an unpleasant task. Sometimes it’s taking care of a bunch of unimportant things to delay a difficult one.

But there’s a particularly insidious type of procrastination – one that keeps us treading water in the status quo instead of being ambitious with our lives. Rather than tackling projects for the glory of God, we delay action and merely daydream about the way things could be.

God-given dreams planted in our hearts aren’t nourished. Ministries aren’t established. Businesses don’t get started.

And amazingly, remembering the gospel is the cure.
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Church Productivity: Organizational Effectiveness and Not Personal Effectiveness

For a long time, my desire has been to not waste my life. I wanted to do great things for God and to bring him as much glory as possible.

But I was going about it all wrong.

That’s the opener for a guest post I have today on What’s Best Next, the blog of Matt Perman. Thanks to Matt for allowing me the privilege of guest posting.

You can read the post right here.

It discusses changing the way we look at effectiveness. Rather than focusing on how we can be productive as individuals, the Bible shows us how we should be concerned about the effectiveness of the church.

So head on over to What’s Best Next to check it out, and while you’re there read a few other articles from Matt.

What’s Best Next is a blog on productivity from a Christian perspective – and it’s hands-down one of my favorite blogs. Matt is the Director of Strategy for Desiring God, so he blogs about management, leadership, and theology as well. He has an upcoming book due out in a few months too – so be on the lookout for that!

Time with Family: We Are in a War

Is it important to spend time with your family, particularly your children?

Ask almost anyone the question and you’ll get a resounding yes. But our day-to-day living often reveals a different set of priorities. It’s not that a conscious decision has been made to ignore our families – instead, it’s a slow drift.

Part of it is a failure to realize the impact that family-time has.

But part of the problem is also a failure to realize the need for our involvement.

We forget we’re in a war.
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The Hidden Power of One Big Honkin’ To-Do List

My wife was up to her eyeballs in things to do. We were moving, she had two boys to take care of, she had a house to run – I could seriously write the rest of this post just listing all she had on her plate.

But in the middle of this, the biggest frustration for her wasn’t her long to-do list – it was the uncertainty of what she should be doing at any particular moment. It was the nagging feeling that she was forgetting something or neglecting an important responsibility. It wasn’t the amount of balls she had to juggle – it was the fact that she felt like she was juggling in the dark.

I know the feeling. I hate those “I totally forgot to do that!” moments. There was a time not too long ago when I actually woke up in a sweat in the middle of the night, remembering some long-forgotten tasks that I needed to take care of.

My to-do lists weren’t cutting it for me. Yeah, I was getting most of the major stuff done. And I was good at keeping my nose to the grindstone and working. But a lot was slipping between the cracks.
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Work: The Joy of Participating with the Father

The Joy of ParticipatingGod created work for a reason.

In his power, he can easily accomplish everything that ever needs to get done. But in his wisdom, he gives us some of this work to do: work that not only affects the world around us but spiritually changes us as workers.

God gets more glory when he works through sinful, fallen human beings. Work is also a tool that he uses to stretch us, challenge us, and conform us into the image of Christ.

But there’s an often overlooked reason for work. A reason we need to remember on those rough days of aching backs, headaches, and exhaustion.

One of the benefits of work is the joy we experience when we participate in what the Father is doing.
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Guilt in Stewardship: The Cause and the Cure

There is a dark side to taking time stewardship seriously. When our standards for our time management become God’s standards, we can’t possibly live up. We’re setting ourselves up for guilt, frustration, and depression.

But there is a cure.

You’ll need to bookmark this page. Or maybe you should print it out and put it somewhere you’ll see it often.

Because this is one of the most important things for Christians to understand – and it’s one of the things we so easily forget.

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Rethinking Church Productivity: How to Be Part of the Solution and Not the Problem

I had great intentions. I had great motivations. But for years, I didn’t understand the way the church worked – and it made me part of the problem instead of part of the solution.

We were going through a period of exciting growth in our church, and everyone’s focus was on how we as a church could do more and more. More creative programs. More outreach efforts.

I had some good ideas about things our church could do to reach out to the community. I had people on the church staff commending me and telling me that my ideas were great.

It was exciting to share these ideas, to envision them being enacted, and to think of all the good that would come of them. We as a church could grow and do wonderful things.

Other People’s Efforts

But I realized something about my ideas. I was really good at coming up with stuff that we could do, that the church could do – in other words, things that other people could do. Not me – because I was already so busy. I served on the tech crew, I taught a small group class, I played bass in the contemporary service – I was already doing a ton.

These great ideas were things for other people to organize and implement and evaluate and work at. I came up with the idea – it was the church’s job to make the rest happen. Sure, I’d be willing to volunteer – I just can’t do that much. I’m so busy, you see.
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Faith and Diligence Are Not Opposites

The essence of stewardship is understanding the balance and the relationship between our part and God’s part.

God is sovereign and absolutely in control. He understands our limitations, and he will not require of us more than we can fit into a 24-hour period.

But this doesn’t mean that God will miraculously eliminate all of our cares and concerns over our calendars. It doesn’t mean that we can haphazardly fill our schedules with activities (even if they’re really, really good things!) and expect God to sort it all out for us.

We cause ourselves great stress when we attempt to be too self-reliant and ignore God’s sovereignty and care for us. But the pendulum can swing too far to the other extreme and we end up downplaying our responsibility. It’s possible for us to even think that passivity is a virtue and a sign of faith.

But as stewards of our time, we still have a great deal of control to exert over our daily schedules – and it’s our responsibility to do so wisely.

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“Getting Things Done” – System Overview

Getting Things Done by David Allen sparked a worldwide phenomenon. In his best-selling book, Allen introduces a personal productivity system (abbreviated “GTD”) which has become the most popular and talked about time management strategy in modern times – especially on the internet.

Many people may be very familiar with GTD (or even totally sold-out devotees), but I wanted to briefly summarize GTD principles for the benefit of those who are wondering what this thing called GTD is.
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