What does a continuous learner look like?

Developing a healthy church staff team requires a group of continual learners. A healthy staff team is filled with 'I do not know it all but I want to learn' instead of 'I know it all' people. 

So ... What does a continuous learner look like? 

Here are 10 characteristics I've observed in healthy leaders and teams: 

  1. A humble posture.   
  2. Has endless curiosity.
  3. Discipline to pursue learning.
  4. Capable of being self-taught.
  5. Listens more than talks.    
  6. Views everything as a learning opportunity.  
  7. Seeks out and uses best resources.  
  8. Welcomes feedback and evaluation.
  9. Always teaching, informally or formally.
  10. Surrounds self with other learners.

I am continual learner. I spend the majority of my working hours creating and identifying resources to accelerate my growth and the growth of others. 

That is exactly why I created the Flow Conference. The Flow Conference will help your church learn how to connect people to God through creative arts. 

As church leader, I urge you to learn and keep learning. Flow Conference is a great learning opportunity and you can learn more HERE.

Telling Stories that Changes Lives

I have a six-year-old daughter who can tell a story like none you’ve ever heard.  Unless of course you have ever heard a six-year-old tell a story, in which case you know what I mean.  It’s filled with crazy details that have nothing to do with the story.  It weaves a maniacal path that is virtually impossible to follow.  And at the end of the story, if there ever is one, you’re left feeling like you need a translation or at the very least subtitles.

Storytelling is one of the main training topics at the Flow Creative Arts Conference on April 14. Why? Because it is one of the most impactful ways to communicate the vision of the church.  Done wrong, and it can be a lot like my daughter’s stories; but done well, and it will capture the attention of your audience, focusing them on the vision of your church, ultimately challenging them or compelling them to live it out in their own lives.

With 5 simple strategies, you can tell real, life-change stories that capture the attention of your audience and move them to action.

Step One:  Set the Stage –What Was Happening?

I was at a student ministry camp where I met another Student Pastor who seemed to be very irrationally angry.”

Step Two:  Introduce the Tension Point – What Was the Problem?

“He was struggling with a message that was going to be taught to the students that night and wasn’t sure he wanted his students to hear the message. His reaction was not a normal one, and I knew there had to be more to his story.”

Step Three:  Decide to React – What Part Did You, the Storyteller, Have in Solving the Problem?

“I decided I would just simply ask him if there was something else that was wrong, something other than the message.  I was very surprised, and not at all prepared for the lifelong secret that he needed to share with someone. And even more surprised that he shared it with me.”

Step Four:  Share the Resolution – Tell How the Problem Was Resolved?

“He shared with me a story of childhood abuse, one he’d never shared with anyone else.  But as he told his story, I could actually see the relief on his face.  All those years he’d held onto that story, with no one to tell, and simply being able to speak the words, set him free.”

Step Five:  Show the Future – What’s the Point of the Story?

“We often talk about the importance of having real biblical community around here.  Being allowed to be a part of that community for this man was life changing for me, and I imagine for him as well.”

This is a real story of life-change.  It’s a very simplified version of the story, but it makes the point well.  With 5 simple steps, you can direct anyone’s story to be a well-told, life-impacting story.  Don’t overlook storytelling as one of your main ways to communicate with your church.

My friend Phil Bowdle will teach you how to capture and share stories at the Flow Conference. You can reserve your spot by clicking HERE

7 Ways to Show Your Team You Care

In researching why people love their jobs, we discovered a statistic that was not too surprising. In every single survey we read (50 of them to be exact), among the top 5 reasons listed for why people loved (or hated) their job was “their boss.”

As a Church Leader, it is easy to become so focused on the day to day life of the church; ministries, budgets, planning events and services, that it is easy to overlook your staff. I’ve been guilty.  I had a great team, one I deeply valued, but one I often overlooked.  But I quickly learned that if I didn’t care for my team, they weren’t going to be my team for long.

Frankly, I created the Flow Creative Arts Conference as a way for leaders to show their team they care through providing continuing education. 

Here are 7 Easy Ways to Show Your Team You Care: 

#1 - Recognize their work via Social Media

Tweet it, Post it, Pin it, Instagram it.  Put it on the Vine if you have to.  But get the word out that you have great people on your team.

#2 - Remember the details of their lives

Know their spouses and kid’s names, remember anniversaries and birthdays and celebrate with them accordingly.

#3 - Randomly send notes

Don’t wait for a special occasion to encourage them.  Handwrite a note telling them why you’re thankful they are on your team.  I had a boss that would periodically leave a sticky note on my keyboard.  Not a big deal, but it was nice to know he took the time to show he cared.

#4 - Regularly Pray

Pray for them, Pray with them, Pray over them.

#5 - Reach out in times of crisis

This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to remember.  Yes, they might have a big extended family and an army of friends, but you still need to take the time to reach out to them in times of crisis.

#6 -Respectfully challenge and encourage

Take the time to help your staff grow by encouraging them in their strengths and challenging them to live up to their God-given potential.

#7 - Refresh with training opportunities

A simple way to express you care is investing in your teams personal development. Helping people grow personally helps your organization and the future of team members. 

Give your team a day off with an enjoyable and helpful learning experience at the Flow Conference. The conference will help your team recharge creatively and build unity. The conference is affordable, practical, and perfect for training team members and volunteers. 

You can show your team and volunteers how much you care by providing them personal training at Flow. You can register HERE. 

4 Myths About Creativity and the Church

Jonathan Malm will be a featured speaker at the Flow Creative Arts Conference this April 14, 2016. He'll speak on what it means to "Find the Third Option" when it comes to using your creativity for God's glory. Connect with Jonathan on Twitter @jonathanmalm.

There’s been a big movement toward more creativity in the Church over the last few years. That gets me excited, because I love when churches can grab people’s attention.

Unfortunately, I think people have a few incorrect theories about creativity and its use in the church. Never fear. I’m clearing them up right here.

Here are four myths about creativity and the church.

Creativity Myth 1: Some people have it; others don’t.

I don’t know of a single child who thinks they aren’t creative. I’m sure you believed in your creativity when you were younger too. But somewhere along the line, either from a mean teacher or discouraging parent, you started believing you weren’t creative.

What changed? Not your creativity. It was just your perception of yourself.

I’m convinced we all have the capacity for creativity. We just have to intentionally tap into that aspect of our ability. Of course, in order to do that, we also have to have the right definition of creativity.

Myth 2: It involves making something beautiful.

My fine motor skills never quite developed like others' have. That means when I sit down to draw with my six-year-old niece, my wife isn’t sure what I drew and what my niece did.

Of course, for many, that would make them assume they aren’t creative. If I can’t draw something beautiful, surely I’m not creative. But creativity isn’t just about art. Creativity is really more about problem-solving. It’s about a different perspective on whatever’s in front of you.

When we look at that as creativity, anyone can be creative—even accountants or construction workers. We all can infuse a different perspective into our jobs.

Myth 3: It’s illusive.

Part of the reason we believe creativity is illusive is that we think it’s some sort of magical, mystical creature that chooses sovereignly to visit us. But if that were the case, we wouldn’t have those heroes who consistently—every single day, it seems—come up with great ideas.

Creativity isn’t a mystical spark. It’s a muscle. It’s a tool. It’s something you can choose to tap into and infuse into any situation.

Not only that, but as believers, we have the opportunity to ask for creativity whenever we need it. Creativity is about different perspectives—the same thing wisdom is all about. And the Bible says we can ask God for wisdom if we lack it. He’ll give it to us. We can ask God for creativity in a situation and he’ll hook us up. Awesome, huh?

4. Creativity in the church is about making it entertaining.

I hate to admit, but when I first started integrating creativity into my church, it was because I was bored with church. I thought making it creative would make it fun again. But creativity is not about making church entertaining or somehow relevant again. That’s not the point of church. And if your church feels irrelevant, it’s probably because you aren’t noticing real-life church. Changed lives are very relevant.

Creativity is about helping your church communicate its message more effectively. It’s about making the message bypass just the head and getting it straight into the heart. If you’re using it otherwise, it’ll fail you every time.

So those are the myths I’ve noticed invading the church’s use of creativity. What have you seen that we need to correct in our use of creativity?

You can learn more from Jonathan Malm by attending the Flow Conference. Jonathan is a featured speaker at the Flow Creative Arts Conference this April 14, 2016. He'll speak on what it means to "Find the Third Option" when it comes to using your creativity for God's glory. The Early Bird registration of $129 per church expires on February 22, 2016. Register HERE.

An Excellent Way to Encourage Your Team

Jenni Catron

Jenni Catron

As a church leader, how do you encourage your team on a consistent basis?

Maybe it’s cookies in the break room.
Maybe it’s a raise.
Maybe it’s words of encouragement at just the right time.

One of the most effective ways I’ve seen to give back to your team is to set aside time for staff-wide training. That may sound pretty dry, but it doesn’t have to be, especially if you choose the right kind of learning experience. In addition to knowing that they’re being invested in, a set-apart time for staff-wide training also offers your team more opportunities to get to know each other—to continue becoming a team.

On April 14, 2016, I’ll be taking part in the all-new, all-online Flow Creative Arts Conference. This unique event targeting church leaders and church creatives will provide a one-day opportunity for team-building and training. 

Through streamed keynotes and on-demand access to breakout sessions, you’ll learn how to:

- Practically enhance Sunday morning worship experiences
- Build a creative process system
- Lead a productive creative team
- Connect with people through art forms  
- Work with key stakeholders
- See, experience, and incarnate the meaning and purpose of creative arts within your church.

Flow’s speaker lineup includes Jenni Catron (me!), Brad Lomenick, Stephen Brewster, Aaron Ivey, Jonathan Malm, Phil Bowdle, Brady Shearer, Blaine Hogan, Whitney George, and its host, Tim Peters.

The current cost is only $129 (extended until Feb. 22) and covers your entire church staff and/or volunteer teams. In other words, you don’t pay individually. This conference is for you and your team, to help all of you reconnect with why you do what you do.

The live portion of the conference, which will include being able to interact with the speakers via social media, will run from noon to 4 p.m. EST and feature seven keynote sessions. 

If you or your team can’t make April 16th work, registration allows you on-demand access to all keynotes and breakouts after the conference is over.

Invest in your team today and register for the Flow Creative Arts Conference

I’ll see you there. And maybe I’ll bring the cookies!