This season at Rancho, we are doing a series titled “Greater” (No Guilt in Life, No Fear in Death), leading up to Easter 2015. The art for the series was developed attempting to be more future-leaning and bold as we wanted to make a statement and invite the community to something interesting for this series and Easter.

The black speaks towards darkness/despair and the red towards the redeeming blood of Christ. The “greater than” sign speaks to how the grace and life in Christ is greater than sin, death, guilt, darkness – and the Church, by this power is greater than and overcoming darkness in this world – lot’s of hope in a seemingly dark place.

Hidden in the background of the design is a portrait of Jesus, hand drawn by our graphic designer. We used it last summer (2014) in a series called “Portrait” as we looked at the person and life of Christ. We then used that same graphic to create a participatory project for another series call “I Was Here”. We setup the outline of Christ (from the previous series) on a large banner and invited people to put their thumbprint in a “paint by numbers” type layout. A large portrait of Jesus Christ began to emerge. I pulled that final project into Photoshop and screened it into the background of “Greater” – so there literally hundreds (if not thousands) of our church family’s thumb prints embedded within this design…

PrintI listened to this today and was really intrigued by the content – I think it’s worth the 15 minute listen or you can read the transcript:

Is Work-Family Conflict Reaching a Tipping Point?

I think it’s important to stay informed as we lead/pastor/teach in 2014 and we’re all dealing with families – especially in the church dynamic. I felt this podcast was really eye-opening and a conversation starter on multiple levels as we seek to lead and pastor families in the church.

Some of the most interesting statements/comments:

You surveyed graduating college seniors in 1992 in 2012. And in the class of 1992 78% said that they did plan to have children. But by 2012 only 42% said they planned to have children.

another thing that we observed was the change in how many hours people expect to work. So in 1992 the anticipated hours per week was 58. In 2012 it was 72.

So for one thing young men today expect, much more than their predecessors, to have a spouse who is fully engaged in her career.

In addition young men today are more likely to want to be engaged on the domestic front as fathers and as partners, to be more psychologically and physically involved in family life. And so the conflict between their work and potential family roles is much greater as a result. And that’s one of the things that we saw that helps us explain why fewer men are planning to have kids. Because they don’t see how they can do it.

Having seen their parents generation. Which went from 15% of mothers in 1992 being full-time employed to 50% of the class of 2012. They see what’s required. And many, especially women, are saying to themselves, well if I’m going to have kids then one of us should be at home. And it’s probably going to be me. So again, there’s another tension.

And again for women in our sample the more you identified as agnostic or atheist the less likely you were to plan to have kids of your own. So we infer from that the norms associated with traditional religions about the role of women society, they’re having less of an impact in terms of how women are thinking about their future.

So that men today, compared to their predecessors 20 years ago, are more egalitarian in their perspective. They’re much more likely to support a 50/50 model of shared responsibility, of shared care at home and shared commitment, equal commitment to work. The interesting thing though is that women are less so. So their belief in the necessity of a 50/50 world has actually gone down. So as a result you see men becoming more egalitarian women less so.

For people to have work schedules and workplaces that enable them to do the things that matter to them in the different parts of their lives. And the companies that are ahead of the curve on progressive, flexible, work policies are going to be attracting the best and brightest.

There’s been a number of important stories coming out over the last few months about trying to rein in the beast of overwork. And to give people opportunities to have more lives beyond work. And whatever can be done to fight what remains is the stigma flexibility. Men and women taking time. And still in many of our companies they’re seen as not committed. And it’s just foolhardy to be measuring people on face-time.

Alex-Church-Resources1Church Resources for this week: for some reason I was doing a lot of reading on “the workplace” this week. Below are three of my favorite articles that deal with work. First culture  – how you are creating either a positive or negative culture. And second, two articles on staffing. I believe that we (churches) can learn a lot from business and vice-versa. You can find a lot of biblical principals in these types of articles. Our organizations should be smart, honest and well run, while creating positive, life giving cultures that encourage the best “work”.

#1 Why You Hate Work

If your employees feel more energized, valued, focused and purposeful, do they perform better? Not surprisingly, the answer is almost always “Yes.” Next we ask, “So how much do you invest in meeting those needs?” An uncomfortable silence typically ensues.

I really like this article – however the title is a little of a turn off. If you are a leader in your church or organization and you don’t take some time to think about the health of those who work or serve with you, you should. I think this article points out some really great areas that you can spend some focus time on.

#2 How and When to Hire Staff for Your Church Plant

So that’s kind of the litmus test of bringing someone onto the team. It’s a simple principle I learned from Chris Hodges. He said, “Don’t ever hire promises.”People are great at painting a picture of what they COULD do if you would just hire them. But the truth is, most people, if they’re willing to make the sacrifices FOR A SEASON, can produce those promises within your church without being on full-time paid staff.”

I think this article should just be titled, “Read Before You Hire” because it’s packed full of little nuggets of wisdom on hiring, leadership, what leaders are looking for, how to get a job in a church, and more. Of course no method is perfect, but this is some great insight. Read the whole article here.

#3 Hire Slow, Fire Fast

To “hire slow, fire fast,” start by being absurdly selective in who you hire. Mark Adams, the Managing Director at Vitsoe, the worldwide licensee of Dieter Ram’s furniture collection, approaches hiring with incredible selectivity. What he wants to discover is who is a natural fit. In addition to multiple interviews, he and his team have prospective employees come and work with them for a day. No commitment has been made on either side; it’s just a chance for each side to see each other as naturally as possible.

This is one of those leadership concepts that just makes total sense, yet is so hard to live into. We all have stories of how our heads knew what to do, but our hearts just couldn’t. Or tradition or bureaucracy got in the way of progress when staffing was concerned. This article lays out some very simple ideas for smart, patient hiring, and quick, humane and decisive firing. If you’re a leader of a church or organization – this is a great read.  Check out the article here.

Alex-Church-Resources1Here’s this week’s Church Resources. Each week I spend time reading through emails, links, blogs, Facebook, etc. and I try and pull out some of my favorite resources for people in the church. These are great, short little resources that can spark ideas and conversations in your spheres of influence. If you find something good, please leave a comment – I’d love to see what you’re reading!

#1 The Good News About Marriage

Have you ever quoted the facts about the 50% divorce rate?

Yeah? So have I.

Have you ever lamented the fact that the divorce rate was the same in the church? Or that most marriages are just hanging in there, not vibrant and happy?

Have you seen or shared the sobering statistic that most second marriages don’t make it? Or talked about marriage being hard?

If you are married, considering marriage, or working with married people, you must read this article.

#2 Seven Habits of Outwardly Focused Churches

Over time, most of the resources of time, money, and ministries have shifted more toward the members. Churches are now gathering in holy huddles with little intention of breaking out into a world of lostness and loneliness.

Of course not all churches fall into the “holy huddle” category, but from experience, I would say that it’s easy to slip towards focusing more and more attention inwards rather than outwards. You have to be intentional about reaching out and this article has some good insights on that – might spark some good conversations in your staff meetings, small groups, or networks. Go read the article today.

#3 What Makes a Leader?

Lastly, this article from on leadership. This is a little deeper, but what I really liked was the content in the diagram, titled “5 Components of  Emotional Intelligence at Work”. It’s quite a mouthful, but the content is really right on. See the graphic below, then go check out the article.