Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Six Things - Nic Lines

Nic is 27 years old and has been married to Amy for three years.  They are expecting their first child in November this year and live in Bishops Stortford with their cat Rosie!  Nic started working for Bishops Stortford Community Church in the role of Youth Leader in September 2009 after six years working for Hertfordshire Constabulary as a Police Constable.  He became a Christian in 2003 after completing an Alpha course at the Church he now works for.

Nic is an active person and loves playing and watching sport especially football, golf, squash and running.  He is a big Tottenham Hotspur fan and loves socialising in the local pub with a cold beer watching a game with his mates.

One thing that's always worth getting out of bed for
My personal devotion time in the morning - which is most definitely the best time of my day.  I am an early bird and love getting up before Amy when the house is quiet and the sun is just rising.  Although this doesn't happen every morning (!) I love pouring myself a cup of tea and spending some time praying, reading my Bible and studying some books before the day gets going.  I always find that this morning routine leaves me ready for the day and I really miss it when I oversleep (which happens more often than not!) or lazily fail to get up on time!  I certainly feel built up having spent time with my heavenly Father and committing my day to Him.

One thing about yourself that often obstructs me
My fear of what people think of me!  I can often shy away from voicing my opinion, talking to people or putting myself in the lime light (especially with people I don't know) because I'm worried how I will come across and what people will think of me!

One thing I've learned the hard way
That life is tough. I've had a better life than most (especially when you look internationally) but I've still walked through some rough times.  Although I believe that there is a compassionate, loving, faithful and merciful God who walks through the difficult times with us but that doesn't mean that our lives are void of suffering.

One thing that gets under my skin
Injustice.  I think this is what was the motivation behind me joining the police force and also my passion for the church but in every area of my life (from a wrong decision on the football pitch to current affairs) I hate to see injustice.  I especially hate it when people are marginlised...I hate seeing old people abused and lonely, I hate seeing children bullied at school, I hate seeing adults on their own and outcasted and I hate seeing the weak taken advantage of by the physically strong.

One thing I'd love to change
The world's view of the church.  Over the years I think the church has had a huge amount of negative press and is sometimes viewed as stuffy, perverted, boring and old fashioned. I would love to change (in whatever small way I can) perceptions like these because I actually believe the church is the hope of the world. I think when the church functions as Jesus wants it to there's nothing quite like it!

One thing I hope for
A healthy baby come November (which is when Amy is due) and that we as a family would do everything we possibly could (i.e. have no regrets) to fulfill all that God has for us (Ephesians 2:10) therefore Honouring His name.

Six Things is a series of micro-interviews with interesting and creative people,
in which they’re asked to respond to a standard set of six prompts.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Admin Lessons - Communication

I work as a Church Administrator which means I have a wide range of roles that I oversee.  One of the areas I am responsible for is communication.

Communication in any organisation (or indeed in any relationship) can always be improved, in fact most of the time the communication we do is purely information transfer - sending out details of what is going to happen with the hope that if we say it enough times and in enough different ways it will be absorbed and understood.

This is the reality of organisational communication.  Occasionally we review, reflect and ask people how we are doing, for those of you reading this who are part of my church why don't you tell me what you think - click here for a quick survey - but read the rest of this post first!

When I look at communication and the process of communication for an organisation I find Kipling's six honest men helpful,
"I KEEP six honest serving-men (They taught me all I knew)
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who."

1. Why communicate?
At its simplest level people need to know what's going on and so we need to tell people!
But more fundamentally in an organisation communication should help to serve the vision. Great leadership provides a compelling and well communicated vision which can be easily grasped and connected to the everyday activities which help move the organisation towards achieving that vision.

2. Where do you communicate? and...
3. How do you communicate?
These two questions refer to the channels of communication that are employed.
This simple answer to this should be - in as many places and using as many methods as possible, the following diagram tries to sum up the main methods that we use in our church.
(The size of each items is my guess at how effective each method is in terms of reach and usefulness)

4. Who communicates?
The really short answer is Me (see the first paragraph)! In reality everybody on staff and in leadership in our church is involved in one way or another in the communication process.
But even wider than that everybody in the whole organisation in involved in communication, they may not generate the initial communication but when they recieve it they can pass it on. If we fall into a culture of not telling people news we think they may need to know then we are not really looking out for each other. This will never be a primary means of communication rather a safety net provided by our mutual community.

5. When to communicate?
Different situations demand different timescales but the further ahead you can communicate is usually the better.
It is good to be able to plan to communicate, that is having thought out what you want to do then have the time to think about how and when you need to communicate this. More often than not communication has to happen immediately because the situation hasn’t been planned out in advance. Sometimes we have to react to a situation - a bereavement, a sudden opportunity or a cancellation – but more often than not we could have foreseen these events but we have failed to allow ourselves the time necessary to plan not only the event but the communication of the event. Planning is another key element to great leadership which moves an organisation towards its vision – my next article on Admin Lessons will be on planning.

6. What to communicate?
This in a lot of ways is the most important question. You can have all the above perfect but if your content is poorly formulated, full of errors or just difficult to understand then you are probably wasting your time. We need to put ourselves in the place of the person who is reading or hearing our message for the first time. I may have worked on this idea or message for days, weeks or even months so I know exactly what I am talking about but will the person who is hearing it understand or will they be left with a series of questions?

Whenever I produce anything to send out to people I give it to someone else with the question “Does this make sense?” because if it doesn’t I have failed.

So could I and my organisation do better at communication? The answer is YES. I know that we can do better but I also know that I have improved over the years.

What about your communication, what are your areas of weakness? Take a look at the following questions and hopefully they will help point out where you need to work on to really improve your communication.

Why? Is the importance of communication clear and at the top of the list?

Where & How? Are there some new channels of communication you need to develop? Are there some existing ones that need to be revamped or stopped?

Who? What is your flow of communication like? Is there a clear process and system? Do people share news and information with one another?

When? How well are you planning your communication? Esp. For major changes or events do you have time to think what you need to communicate and to be able to develop it with plenty of time before it is needed?

What? Is what you produce any good? How would you know? Do you have someone who has real skill and talent in writing\communication to review your work, esp. before you issue it? For major changes or events do you review your communication with someone who is not involved in the situation to check it “makes sense”?

And don't forget to let me know what you think of our communication in the Community Church, click here to go to the survey.

Friday, 20 May 2011

We all need a bit of adventure...

Are you ready for two minutes of edge of your seat thrills that will make you smile? Enjoy...

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Characteristics of true leadership

For a while I have been following a blog written by Paul Allen, he writes on a numbers of subjects and I love his motto - Lumen Accipe et Imperti (Receive the light & pass it on).

One of the areas that he writes on is is leadership, essentially on the character of true leadership. I like that he is very happy to disagree with other people's quotes about leadership. One of these disagreements that has stayed with me is the quote from Ralph Nader "The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers." Allen comments on this quote by saying, "I believe it misses the point about why leadership is needed at all... If the development of leadership is a byproduct of working to achieve the vision then it is beneficial... So what is the purpose of leadership? To do what it takes to ensure the attainment of the vision." Click here to see the full article.

I've found his writing to be a breath of fresh air on the subject of leadership, maybe because it is not all he is about, he is a musician, songwriter, photographer and he cares for his wife who has chronic illness. His articles are full of humility with a heart to help people develop and grow, I can only hope my blog is thought of in this way. Click here to see his blog\website.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Six Things - Paul Burrell

Paul Burrell’s love of writing music began by bashing out ideas on a rusty old piano to his grandmother. Songwriting became his favoured means of expression in his teens and, to this day, is still his main focus. He has won the ‘Opportunity Knocks’ North West of England Final and the BBC ‘That’s Life’ Royal Wedding Song Competition.

His current post as Assistant Headteacher and Director of Music at Presdales School allows him a day per week to write music for the pupils there and for the wider community. In January 2009 he wrote the Hip Hop single ‘Back with You’ which was released by Presdales featuring the rapper ‘Tukka’ in aid of the Charity ‘Street Child Africa’. In 2010 he composed ‘The Winner’s Dream’ sung by 3000 Hertfordshire school children at The Royal Albert Hall to celebrate London 2012.

One thing that's always worth getting out of bed for
A full English (or Irish!) breakfast. Seriously - to be able to read a chapter from the Bible in the morning is the thing that fires my life. It encourages me or challenges me. When I am genuinely open to what God is saying, I know I am on the right lines.

One thing about myself that often obstructs me
When I know what is the right thing to do but my temperament and pride get the better of me and I choose the wrong option.

One thing I've learned the hard way
That it is sometimes better to wait and think than to rush in and do the wrong thing.

One thing that gets under my skin
People who say they will do something and decide at the last minute they will not do it. Also, Arsene Wenger and Alex Ferguson complaining at almost everybody and everything when they lose.

One thing I'd love to change
That people become as honest with their faults as they are with their apparent spirituality. This would help us all to go forward in humility, grace and truth.

One thing I hope for
To be able to use the gifts God has given me in a way which honours Him and in genuine partnership with Him.

Six Things is a series of micro-interviews with interesting and creative people,
in which they’re asked to respond to a standard set of six prompts.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Six Things

Later this week I will post the first of what I hope to be a regular feature of this blog - Six Things.

Six Things is a series of micro-interviews with interesting and creative people, in which they’re asked to respond to a standard set of six prompts.
• One thing that’s always worth getting out of bed for
• One thing about myself that often obstructs me
• One thing I’ve learned the hard way
• One thing that gets under my skin
• One thing I’d love to change
• One thing I hope for

I hope that you enjoy getting these little insights into people's lives and that they will amuse, encourage and sometimes inspire you.

Credit: Often you will hear a phrase alone the lines of "Six things you didn't know about...", I got this idea from a regular feature on http://www.thatelusiveclarity.com/ website - it is an excellent site why not go check it out.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Being part of something BIG

Today I took part in something that could make a major change in the life of our town and nation. I voted!

It is likely that because where I live is dominated by one party my vote probably won't make any difference.
However, I know that voting does change lives and situations. There have been significant elections which have been won by only a few votes, in those cases just a few hundred or thousand people changed the course of a nation.

The incredible thing is everyday you and I have multiple opportunities to change lives. In our many encounters and interactions with people our actions, words, and sometimes even our silence can affect a person's direction, attitude or even their future. Most (maybe 99%?) of these interactions will not make much difference but the thing is we don't control what does or doesn't.

So today remember you have the chance to make a BIG difference, so go forth and be yourself - a life changer!

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Vote Yes or No for AV but for goodness sake vote!

This Thursday we are being asked to vote on whether we would like to change our voting system.

This is the first time I will have had the chance to vote in a referendum and to be part of something like this as a nation is actually something quite significant, it feels on par with a general election.

However, there is a big worry, a real concern - it is that hardly anyone (in electoral terms) is likely to vote. To quote John Oliver "The British public may not be bothered to vote for how they're going to vote for people they will not be bothered to vote for" from The Bugle podcast.

When parts of the world are rioting and risking their lives for freedom, let's do our job to at least exercise one of our greatest freedoms.

So folks remember to vote this Thursday.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Best apple ipad app ever?

A slightly misleading title, this post includes the Easter video of www.centralchristian.com entitled Masks. It really is the best use of an apple iPad I have seen so far! More importantly it gets to the heart of what is wrong with society, people and even sometimes in our churches - people putting on masks to hide the reality of what they are like or what they think they should be like. I love this church's message "It's OK to not be OK". I hope watching this video will help you to be OK with being who you are.