Stewardship 101 God Does Not Want Your Money
Map vs Compass ~ What will you choose?
What we thought worked no longer works. Notice that in your parish or at your job?
Since the dawn of the industrial revolution maps have ruled our world. We all had one, it worked, we could find comfort. Typical maps (not too long ago) sounded like this. "Go to school, get good grades to get a good job to make enough money to buy stuff and save money for a comfortable retirement". "Create music, get picked up by a record label, make an album, sell lots of them, go on tour and live a celebrity lifestyle" or "Create an event at our parish, post we need volunteers, host event, turn away extra help". Or this classic, "The parish income is down, father will give a short financial report at mass, the following weeks income will be normal again".
The maps worked. But, not anymore. Going to school does not guarantee a great income or a long term job. Anyone with an Iphone and a free Youtube account can record and publish music. Church people routinely ask, "Eric, how do we get more people involved?" or "Eric, how do we raise more money?"
Ever notice when Jesus was teaching or preaching he didn't give clear instructions? He'd say stuff like “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me". Huhhh? Brilliant but where is the 12 step program, the check list, instructional video. Anything that clearly states what you want brother!
The maps created and followed since the industrial revolution no longer work. Sure we can adopt a program and see results for a period of time. But what we are seeking is long term change. The mark of our lives and ministry will not be how many people showed up. Rather, how much impact did we make.
If you think about Jesus, he never worried about how many showed up. He taught from the heart, connected with people, human to human. Gave messages of hope and forgiveness. Jesus taught us by example and the life he led. Jesus didn't use a map... He used a compass.
A compass points in a singular direction no matter how we hold it. The compass does not guarantee the course will be easy. There can be mountains, trees, valleys, rivers and all sorts of obstacles but a compass says "your goal is that way". That is how Jesus taught. His goal was to honor his father and bring as many people to his father as wanted to join him. We know all the obstacles in Jesus way as he followed his goal.
This is our new path. To lead like Jesus, with a compass. Using a compass will be dangerous. We might fail, we will take all the blame if it does. The haters will hate, the doubters will doubt. To make the long term change in our parishes, to make an impact on people this is the new tool we have to use.
What will you do? Rely on a map, or use a compass?
Leave a comment in the comment box sharing how you will move forward in your parish.
Stewardship 202 A Call to Discipleship
Unpacking the stewardship day 2015, what I learned
If you missed the 2015 Stewardship Day, we certainly missed you! It was a remarkable day with record attendance of over 275 people! The day was electric and a total blast.
My goal for 2015 was to increase attendance by 20% which was exceeded. To get different results, I tried different things with marketing and digital media. Here is what I learned that can benefit your parish events. Keep in mind, I wanted different results so I was much more aggressive about trying things that might fail.
Email #1 - Designed as a point of first contact. "Hey something is coming up".
Email #2 - Just as the first sentence indicates... "Just in case you missed the first message..." The chances of your message being filtered into junk mail or being missed all together is pretty high. A second contact affirms the first message.
Email #3 - The third message is totally designed to address reasons people would say "no". The biggest reason people turn down great events at our churches is time. I don't have time or, I can't stay all day. I addressed both roadblocks in this message as well as build anticipation.
Email #4 - This message serves two purposes; continue building anticipation and provide social proof. People eat at restaurants with crowded parking lots. A crowded parking tells us "that restaurant must be good". Amazon reviews, Youtube views and Facebook likes provide the same social proof. I created social proof by using comments from past conference evaluations to show readers that this conference provides value and is the place to be.
Email #5 - In this email I introduce scarcity. I wanted to readers to make a decision and telling them the deadline is coming up is one way to produce scarcity. I also reinforce the value of the conference by promoting the topics again.
Email #6 - This email is the final call to action and to let readers know that registration is closing.
Did the campaign work? I cannot tell who registered as a result of the email directly. What Mailchimp can tell me is approximately 25% or 61 people opened the messages on average. I placed links inside the messages in several places and the click through rate was 3.6% or 6 people on average clicked the link for more information. I received more feedback on this campaign than most marketing I've done to date. The first four messages scheduled a week apart on Wednesdays at times MailChimp told me the message would most likely be read. Messages 5 and 6 were scheduled on the final day of registration. One early afternoon and the final message #6 at 8 PM that evening.
Did the ad work? Well, sort of. I accomplished one goal which was to get the Conference information in front of more eyes. Mission accomplished. I know 216 people interacted with the add. There were Likes and Shares which helps the message spread organically (no cost)...Bonus. My present technology limits my ability to see who clicked through and landed on the registration page. A Facebook tracking pixel embedded on our website would allow me to see how many people clicked through. But, I started the process late and had no time to figure how to do it.
Did the Facebook event work? Not really but it didn't hurt. It was free and simple to create. Plus, it did create a bit of awareness and reinforced all the other marketing efforts.
Did the postcard work? I really have no way of knowing. Although, I did not have 6,000 sheets of paper folded and 3,000 envelopes stuffed. My attitude was much better. Win for me. Effectiveness questionable...
Did it work? Win. Win. The take away here is to give people a bit of ownership in an event and they will naturally spread the event around.
A few statistics from the evaluations. I asked "How did you hear about the conference?" on the evaluation. I forgot to mention to the audience I wanted them to fill out the evaluation plus this specific question. The results are not representative but still interesting.
Where do we go from here? I took time to post this for ministers in this Diocese to see what can/could work in your parish. If you have any questions about the practices I used, please post a comment in the comment box. I am happy to elaborate. One thing to keep in mind as you consider all this content, not everything here will work for you. Some practices may be wrong for marketing your events or ideas. But please consider what could be tried to expand your efforts.
Stewardship 303 Unwrapping the Gift
Use web services to simply parish work
Simplify church work by using the internet. For a couple years I have been using Fiverr.com personally and professionally for a couple years and it is freaking AWESOME. The way it works is this, figure out what kind of job that is wanted done (virtually anything can be done on). Go to Fiverr.com and search for someone to do that task. Hire them, give them the details, wait for the work to be done. Here is a short list of work I have hired freelance workers to do for me:
Not every job has been a home run. But, for $5 I can afford do overs.
Check out the video below where I demonstrate how to use Fiverr.com.
Please post your comments and questions.
Stewardship 404 Time and Talent
Catholic Habits - Not the kind your wear
To be perfectly fair to the Catholic Church, we have done a great job creating very good habits for many people.
Our habits as one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church run far, wide, and deep. But what habits at our local parish can be added or deleted?
In my travels across the diocese of Dodge City and work in other places, a bad habit many parishes are noted for is hospitality, rather, lack of. It stems from the parking lot to our websites. For many parishes we simply do not have a reputation of hospitality.
With all we have learned in this series, could hospitality become a habit? Moreover, could hospitality be our keystone habit?
In an interview Pastor and author Andy Stanley had with author of the Power of Habit Charles Duhigg, Andy asks the question, how do we uncover our organizations keystone habit? The response is this: “Find the changes that should be easy to do but we shy away from.” Listen the full interview here
In Andy’s churches case, his church leadership wanted to be an inviting church. To have each church member invite people to their services and events. This should be an easy task but they found it to be hard. Something the leadership and parishioners shied away from. Through a series of leadership meetings they uncovered three cues parishioners should listen for when visiting friends and even strangers. When the parishioners heard the cue, their routine was to invite that person to the church.
The result was staggering. Once the parishioners were given specific cues to act on and the routine to invite, over time a habit of invitation was created. When parishioners heard one of the three cues the invitation response was automatic. The church grew and the parishioners had the reward of helping it grow plus helping people meet Jesus.
Back to hospitality, what if each parish discerned specific cues to listen for, then, a specific action (routine) to follow the cue. Then taught this to the entire parish? What affect do you reckon would happen?
Hospitality the word carries default baggage of coffee and doughnuts and door greeters. What if we said, “When you see a person who is frowning (the cue), say hello, shake their hand and thank them for being at Mass (the routine)”. That is not a difficult set of actions but I can tell you I don’t do this.
Would this be the habit that has a disproportionate affect on the rest of the parish?
I regret to leave this series with more questions than answers as I come to a close. However, the four pillars of stewardship begin with Hospitality. Bishop John’s short definition of Hospitality is “I love my neighbor”.
What act of hospitality in each parish in the diocese of Dodge City could tell each person "I am Loved?" and be the habit that breaths life into our Church that is needed? A task we should pray for and act on.
You know have the tools to figure it out. You have science, resources, links to info graphics, interviews, and lectures in your hands. You have the power of Jesus, the Holy Spirit and Saints to guide the process.
Will we be bold enough act? Take what you have learned and make a difference in your life. Then make a difference in the life your parish.
Thanks for reading this series, please leave a comment in the comment box.
Rick Warren made Discipleship a Habit in His New Church
It might be odd to highlight a protestant pastor and church in a Catholic blog. Not really so odd when we use what in happened in Saddleback California as a case study
Before we get to the Power of Habit in organizations, there is one more powerful concept worth noting, the Keystone habit.
For specific information regarding keystone habits, check out this great podcast with author and Pastor Andy Stanely and Charles Duhigg, author of the Power of Habit. Listen here
A keystone habit is that habit that has a disproportionate impact on a person or the culture of an organization. For example, exercise is a keystone habit. People that begin an exercise regimen of some sort will experience positive changes in other areas of their life. Regular exercisers (even as little as one time a week!) notice a combination of the following: their eating habits and cravings change, they eat less bad food, they spend less on credit cards, they feel better about themselves, they are happier, less stressed and are less hostile. All these benefits are a result of adding one good habit. This is what makes this habit a keystone habit.
Keystone habits exist for organizations as well. Paul O’Neill, new chief executive for Alcoa Aluminum made Alcoa one of the safest places in the world to work with a capitalization of 27 billion while he ran the company. Within one year of running the company Alcoa’s income hit a record high. Read the whole story here. O’Neill accomplished all this by focusing on one thing, safety. Safety became Alcoa’s keystone habit. With laser like focus throughout the company safety was priority #1. And the results speak for themselves. Do read the whole story for context.
Likewise, in 1979 a young pastor began a church in the Saddleback Valley of California. Over the years of growth Pastor Rick Warren discovered he and his pastors could not properly attend a congregation of 20,000 parishioners and set forth to build people in small groups. To avoid small groups becoming nothing more than coffee clubs he created a curriculum teaching parishioners new habits.
“If you want to have Christ-like character, then you just develop the habits that Christ had," one of Saddleback's course manuals reads. "All of us are simply a bundle of habits. … Our goal is to help you replace some bad habits with some good habits that will help you grow in Christ's likeness." Every Saddleback member is asked to sign a "maturity covenant card" promising to adhere to three habits: daily quiet time for reflection and prayer, tithing 10 percent of their income, and membership in a small group. Giving everyone new habits has become a focus of the church.
"Once we do that, the responsibility for spiritual growth is no longer with me, it's with you. We've given you a recipe," Warren told me. "We don't have to guide you, because you're guiding yourself. These habits become a new self-identity, and, at that point, we just need to support you and get out of your way."”
There are two key concepts presented here. One, keystone habits have deep effects in the life of an organization. Two, churches can harness the power of keystone habits to help parishioners become disciples.
In the next article we tie all of what we have learned together to help you make your parish a place where your friends and neighbors fall in love with Jesus.
Leave a comment in the comment box and share this with your friends.
Are you a Turkey Buzzard?
Are you an Elephant?
Making a New Habit in 3 Steps
In the last blog post I discussed and showed how to break a habit. Just in case it was missed, read it here. We discussed the habit loop which consists of a cue, reward, and a routine. Ultimately pattern of behaviors we do on auto pilot. Recall the story of breaking my salt habit.
Creating a habit is very much akin to breaking a habit. The difference is switching from an undesirable habit to a habit we want in our lives.
When I broke my salt habit that was the first step I took ensure I would stay of meds for high blood pressure. It was six years later I began adding routine exercise to my regimen. What initially kicked that off was a friend who asked me:
Mike -“Eric, have you heard of P90X”
Me - “No, what is it?”
Mike - “According to my buddy it is a major *** kicking but guarantees results in 90 days.”
Me - “Ummmm, Ok let’s do it”
I bet $100 most people start out what is thought to be a new habit this way. We sign up for a gym membership or open a special saving account for a vacation and in short order abandon the pursuit all together because we go about it all wrong.
To start my workout habit with Mike and Claire we unknowingly followed the habit loop.
This 90 day habit worked and has subsequently morphed into a five year long routine of exercise. The ultimate reward for all this work is I am still not on high blood pressure meds, I am in the best shape of my life, I have more energy than my peers and I sleep like a baby. Plus I ran my first ½ Marathon this year and rocked it. Is it easy? NO! There are days on a long run I wonder, “why am I out here, this is dumb”. But the reward makes it worth it.
Let’s review the habit loop again:
Decide the habit to be created.
1. Create the trigger or cue: What time will this habit occur? Who will you be with? Where will you be? What will you just have finished? What emotion will you be feeling? Only one of these cues are needed but more can be present.
2. What is the reward: What will you give yourself for the behavior? Do I actually enjoy the behavior?
3. Routine: When (cue) , I will (routine) because it provides me with (reward).
Post your plan where you will see it and it will likely become automatic. See the How to "create a habit" flow chart
I mentioned at the beginning it is common for all of this to fail. Remember that new piece of exercise equipment that morphed into an expensive cloths hanger? Here are some strategies to avoid crashing your plan.
You may need to experiment with the reward. Since we are new to creating good habits we may not choose the right reward for our behavior. The reward needs to be lucrative enough that we want to get off the couch and exercise more than set on it with a bag of chips watching another rerun of Friends. It may take a bit of experimenting to get the reward right.
While creating this habit and even after the habit exists we may fall off the wagon so to speak. For example, we create a new prayer routine and life happens and you miss a week, or two days in a row etc. It would be very easy to say, “Forget it, this is not working”. Or the prayer routine does not go well for several days in a row and we throw in the towel.
Some of the best advice I have read when these circumstances, and they will happen, comes from fitness expert Tony Horton: “Stop beating yourself up if you can't sustain and/or maintain your "perfect" plan. It's okay to miss a workout once in1 a while. It doesn't mean that your process has gone to hell in a handcart. It doesn't mean you have to start over. Life happens. Priorities shift. So what? Big deal. Just start up where you left off.” Read the whole article here
With any new habit I have created I have followed this advice to the letter. And this is the hardest advice I have tried to follow. When I began running I would have four great runs in row, then the fifth run would totally bomb. Breathing was not right, had to take walking breaks, knees hurt, all on a route I ran two days before perfectly. The exact same time and route was a total fail! Why? Life happens. Then there would be days that for one reason or another I missed runs. Rather than whine about a bad or missed run I took great effort to brush it off and chalk it up to life happening and go out again.
That key ingredient of not beating myself up has kept me going each time I put on my shoes. For another resource to help you create any habit listen to Tony. Remember, this philosophy can be applied to ANY habit, not just fitness.
Thanks for reading and please leave your comments and questions. In the next blog post I will explain how companies, churches, and schools have habits. And we can take what we know and change our parishes for the better with new habits.
Does my stuff own me?
You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks? Yes you can..
Without insulting serious addiction, there is good cause to believe that some addictions are not addictions, rather habits.
For years I was a saltaholic. Added salt to everything from steak to french-fries to salad was very normal for me. I mean, who doesn’t add salt to french-fries? People with high blood pressure or pre-hypertension that’s who… Yep, at the ripe age of 37 the signs hypertension began to show up. Hypertension runs in my family as I discovered so it was a matter of time that I would have to be treated for it in some fashion.
But at 37! Surely I could change what I was doing to avoid prescription meds. Thus, it was time to break bad habits.
First, how does a habit work? For every habit there is a cue, a reward, and a routine. The cue sets off a series of behaviors that ultimately looks like this. A mother makes a vow to not eat out to help the family budget. But what happens? On the way home, like most days, she drives by McDonalds. She is a bit stressed and the kids have lost their minds. Plus, it is supper time. The cue, wigged out kids. The routine? Hit the drive through, drop $30 and head home. An hour later, regrets having ate out and wrecked her budget again.
For me and salt the cue was…eating food. The routine, setting at the table, organizing my plate and grabbing the salt shaker. The reward, the flavor and using the salt shaker.
How do we break these habits? Obviously some habits are easier to break than others. In the case of the stressed out mother, she could simply take a different route home to avoid the site of the golden arches or other fast food joints. In addition, she could keep bags of crackers in the car and pass them around to the kids. The kids may still act goofy but the crackers may quiet them down a little on the way home.
In my case the habit was a bit harder to break. No matter where I go I gotta eat and salt is everywhere. I figured out my triggers, routine and reward. Eating and using copious amounts of salt as soon as I sat down. The reward was the taste and physical act of adding the salt. To break this habit loop I did a couple things. 1, quit putting a salt shaker in on the table or moving one away if it was within easy reach when dining out. 2, I bought Mrs. Dash, not the same thing I know but it does add flavor to food and it gave the satisfaction (aka reward) of shaking something on my food.
Over time my craving for salt disappeared. Plus I quit using Mrs. Dash as that reward was no longer a neccessary. As it turned out, staying off high blood pressure meds became the reward and that keeps me off salt to this day. Side note, my pallet is very sensitive to salt now. There are some foods I avoid all together now due to being too salty.
From these examples we can see that in fact we can teach old dogs new tricks. Even when we are the old dog.
In the next entry in our series we will explore how to instill new habits. Often we know what we need to do but do not have the tools to move forward. For another even more succinct version to learn how to break habits, check out Charles Duhigg’s video where he explains how he broke a cookie habit and lost 12 pounds. See it here, watch the video now
Using the Gift
I got home and I don't remember how - what I learned
Part 1 in a Series
I can recall at least four times I have said “I will stop by the store on my way home for lunch”, only to end up in my drive way thinking, “Crud, I wanted to stop by the store on my way home”. What happened? At 12 PM my lunch routine started and my brain went into auto pilot. I grabbed my keys, got into my car, turned on music, I left the parking lot, turned on Central, slowed down for the rough crossing at Comanche street, waited for the light at Soule Street, missed the red at 6th and turned on Hart then my driveway.
What I am describing is a habit. According to researcher Wendy Wood, she monitored people’s daily behavior and found that 45% of the decisions we make are actually habits. They’re not really decisions and from that, we know that every habit happens at a kind of border: It’s a decision we made at some point but then stopped making and continued acting on. Read the full story in Time Magazine
In this series I will explore how we can change Catholic habits (not the kind you get by taking vows) and use them to make the Church a place where friends and neighbors fall in love with Jesus.
Our brains are wired up to crave habits. It takes less mental muster to accomplish routine tasks. That is why rote prayers are so wonderful in times of stress. At the loss of a loved one or after a car accident we do not have to think about the words when we need Jesus, Mary or one of the Saints. With our friends and family we can say a Rosary and be united. Our brains, not to mention our hearts, can divert our energy to other tasks versus thinking about what to say. To read more about how our brains work with habits read, The Power Of Habit by Charles Duhigg.
In my story about the failed attempt at an errand I wanted to do over lunch, I told my experience about one of hundreds of habits that you and I have on any given day. The route we take to work, the foods we eat…or don’t eat, where we set at church, programs we watch, money we spend or save. Hundreds of little decisions we chose at one time and act upon without even thinking.
If in doubt about how powerful habits can be, check out how TARGET, the retail store, uses our buying habits to sell us stuff. This is definitely three minutes worth watching.
Imagine the power of people and faith we could unlock by helping people change their habits. In this series I will cover:
How to break a habit
How to add a habit
Institutional Habits – Church habits
These articles will be brief and packed with links to more information for further study. The basics concepts will be out lined in an easy to ready format.
At the end of this series, you will have the knowledge to not only change your parish, but also your life.
Thanks so much for reading and share this with your friends. Leave comments in the in the comment box to start a great discussion.
Going To the Dogs
I go to McDonalds...for the wifi
For the last few years I have made fast food joints the devil in my mind. Making these places out to be evil helps me stay out of them. No they are not really evil places it is only a Jedi mind trick I play on myself to stay healthy and off high blood pressure meds.
That being said, if I am traveling solo somewhere I end up in...McDonalds and yes eat there. My motivation is to get the free wifi. No matter where I go I can count on Micky D to free up my data plan. Plus I can whip out my laptop and work, serf, or anything else I want. I LOVE free wifi.
On my last work trip I had a bit of extra time time to kill so bellied up to a burger and wifi at the Garden City Golden Arches. As I sat there checking email and my Facebook status I wondered how this experience of free wifi and McDonalds would work as a metaphor for our Catholic Churches.
At first my mind wondered over to the Eucharist. My love/hate relationship with fast food could be akin to church/Eucharist. I love free wifi/avoid fast food. Then you have a number of people that love the Eucharist but don't like church.
That works but is not what is on my heart. There has to be more to this than that simple analogy.
Then I asked "what is our Catholic Parishes wifi?" What do we offer people that is so irresistible people show up despite hesitation. McDonald's offers people like me that avoid the food...wifi.
I will tolerate the food in order to get what I really want which is unabated internet access. SCORE!
What is our wifi? What do we offer Catholics whose relationship to Church is similar to my relationship to fast food? We could say Jesus Christ in the Eucharist which for the committed Catholics would be true. But what about the group of Catholics that do not believe in the real presence? What about the group that had a bad experience in the Church? What about the group that identifies themselves as spiritual but not religious?
We have a great opportunity to think different about ministry and what it means to be Church. Our core work, providing the sacraments and catechesis, will not change. But everything in between those two points can. It can include but is not limited to how we communicate, small group opportunities, community, outreach, mission work, relationship and on and on.
For the Catholics and other Christians we want to evangelize too, it is no longer good enough to get them involved. What is better is to add value to their lives by showing we, as Jesus representatives, we care. We care so much we will listen and walk with them. Help them on a journey of meaning to our Lord by accepting them where they are and lovingly bring them to understanding.
This begins with answering, what is our wifi?
Please leave a comment and share this with your friends. Eric
Shall We Dance?