Becoming Legendary Don't drown in the Quo

June 24, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — John Jones @ 5:40 pm

Questions to ask before doing a Capital Campaign

Are churches asking the right questions when they embark on a capital campaign that will ask their congregants to give more than they are used to giving? I think some churches do, but I’ve been involved in several that didn’t ask. So, this article is dedicated to posing questions that I think churches need to ask before they set up a new church design.

  1. What is the motivation behind building more buildings or doing massive renovations to the existing building?
  2. Has the church leadership gotten buy-in from the opinion leaders at the church?
  3. Does the church design fit in with what is really needed for the congregation?
  4. How will the church pitch and “sell” the vision of a new set of buildings?
  5. How much debt will the church capital campaign cause?
  6. Can the church handle carrying so much debt?
  7. Does the majority of the church want to do a capital campaign?
  8. Has the church done its research as to which architectural firm they will use to drive this campaign?
  9. Has the church leadership “taken the temperature” of their people concerning this campaign?
  10. Will the church use 3D animations to ‘show and tell’ what the future church design will look like to the members?
  11. Who will be the point people for selling this vision?
  12. What changes or buildings are really needed?
  13. What does the church leadership believe is going to happen because they build new buildings?
  14. How will the church leadership handle dissenters and laggards in the church during this campaign?
  15. Why do this at all?
  16. How much extra time and effort will this capital campaign require from the leadership and from the lay leaders of the church?
  17. Will this capital campaign be set up to be done in stages?
  18. How much prayer has gone into the decision to build more buildings?
  19. Is God pressing this process or is a work of man?

 

Okay, I have a bunch more, but I think these will be good starters for any congregation seeking to build anew. Thanks for reading. Good luck in your projects.

June 13, 2016

Things to consider when looking for a house to buy

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Jones @ 8:07 pm

Things to consider when looking for a house to buy

I’m sure there is a much better and more complete list of things that would help you buy a specific house, but I decided to give it a shot. Below are some of the things I would definitely take into account now that I am in my 40’s and have a family.

  1. Are there high percentages of sexual offenders in the neighborhood? I know a lot of people who don’t check out the database before committing to a house. This is a problem that you cannot undo once signing on the dotted line. And if you have children living in a neighborhood where there are convicted sex offenders, it’s dangerous. If you don’t know how to find out, ask your Realtor to find out. It’s too important to ignore.
  2. Is the property value going up or going down? If you look at a certain neighborhood and it seems nice to you, check out the prices of the homes around it. What was once or even currently a good place to live might be about to plummet in value because the city council decided to move the focal point of growth to a totally different area of town. An example of this from Lubbock, Texas is that my grandmother owned a house that was in the booming part of town. Her house was highly valued and the area was full of good young families and the crime was pretty much non-existent. But then the city started pushing for building out on the Southwest side of Lubbock. Within years, Lubbock homes for sale in my grandmother’s neighborhood were worth half of what they had been.
  3. What is the history behind the house you are looking at? No one wants to move into the Amityville Horror house. Ask deep questions and even do brief interviews with neighbors to find out if this house is a money pit or if it has been taken care of. Also ask your Realtor to talk to you about the internal conditions of the house. How’s the roof? How’s the electrical system? Do ghosts regularly appear while someone is taking a shower.

Okay, there are a bunch more questions I would ask, but I don’t want this article to take forever. Think about these three and I’ll bring you two more in the next article.

Even better, send me the questions you ask before buying a house – especially if are looking for homes in Lubbock, Tx (that’s my hood).

Until later good people…

How Change Agents can lead a Capital Campaign: Part Two

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Jones @ 7:40 pm

How Change Agents can lead a Capital Campaign: Part Two

In my last article, I mentioned three things that a change agent must do to help a church complete a successful capital campaign. Below are the final three things that are crucial to this process.

4. Fourthly, the change agent needs to re-convene the opinion leaders to find out how many people are excited about the process to come, how many people are on the fence but leaning toward a yes and how many people are stubbornly refusing to accept this change. With this knowledge, the change agent(s) can gauge what sort of energies are going to be required to get to a tipping point. Most likely there will never be a unanimous “yes” vote, but if the acceptance rate is high, the late adopters and laggards won’t be needed to get the project done.

5. Fifth, the change agent(s) join together with the leadership to help them budget incrementally for the project and shows them the best ways to finance for the project. “How much will this cost?” will usually be a main question asked at every step mentioned above. A ballpark range can be offered by the change agents based on their past experiences. But an exact number will not be offered out until this stage is reached. It’s good to be vague early in the process. But this step solidifies a number that comes with strategies as to how this will be accomplished. When people see a yearly budget attached to this project and are already fired up for it, they will not freak out when the cost is set.

6. Finally the change agent(s), who are hopefully the same people who will be doing the actual building (best-case scenario), begins to lay the groundwork and then to build out the 3D animations. (Halo Architects in conjunction with Gone Virtual Studios is a firm I would recommend if you want people who understand change agency, vision, church design, budgeting and financing, and also the actual build-out. Feel free to choose who you like, but I happen to know these guys and I’ve seen their tremendous work.)

Okay, that is it for this article. See you next time with another hopefully helpful article as you enter into the Church Capital Campaign world. Good luck and God bless.

June 7, 2016

How Change Agents can lead a Capital Campaign: Part One

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Jones @ 5:54 pm

Change Agents are key to successful Church Capital Campaigns (not to mention all other innovation diffusions). But what makes them so special? Why are they considered a necessary component to the process of taking a church’s vision from an empty hope to a grand fulfillment? What do they do?

 

As mentioned in the previous article, a Capital Campaign for a church is one of the most difficult because it involves getting people to open their tight wallets and to give extra money to something they are not sure they want. This is where experienced change agents come into play. They understand human nature and they are able to figure out all sorts of things that the untrained person cannot see.

 

What do change agents focus on when turning vision into a movement with momentum?

 

  1. First of all, change agents do their research. To do this research they ask vital questions of the church leadership to get a feel for what is wanted. At this stage, change agents want to know what kind of building or buildings are wanted. They also ask about the history of the church and most importantly they identify the “opinion leaders.’ This leads us to point number 2.

 

  1. Secondly, change agents gather the identified opinion leaders into a room and take the temperature of what they think about the change that might be coming. If the opinion leaders are not excited about the vision for church design, they will not use their much needed influence to persuade the rest of the congregation. If there are no influencers influencing, the vision stops right there.

 

  • Inside of this second step, change agents need to bring the influencers along by showing and telling. Pitching the leaders with just words is not as effective as talking plus revealing a very accurate 3D animation and architectural renderings that help leaders experience a vision of the end of the building process. Change Agents without the technological tools to back up even the most powerful speeches typically fail.

 

  1. Thirdly, once the opinion leaders have bought-in, the change agent(s) need to ask these leaders to start sharing the vision to the entire congregation. They can do this best by gathering people who are in their spheres of influence and by holding small groups with these people to tell them and also show them the architectural renderings and 3D animations. These groups are key to the process. Influencers are typically friends or close acquaintances with their small groups and I cannot emphasize how much they can move people from a “no” to a “yes.” You cannot expect the change agent who is a relative stranger to the church to make this happen. And you certainly should not have the pastoral team do it. Congregations do not want to feel as they are being pressured by professionals who “just want their money for a pet project.” (I’ve seen this model tried again and again and it always ends bad for the relationship between the pastor and the lay persons.)

May 31, 2016

Change Agents and Capital Campaigns

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Jones @ 6:11 pm

Capital Campaigns and Change Agents

 

Most people do not like change. If people have been doing things one way and someone introduces a change that will force them to shift their behavior, there is typically push back. This degree of this push back is usually determined by how much change is required. I recall working at one church where leadership decided to set up a new model for committees and since this forced the staff and the congregation to radically change how they related to the system of church democracy, there was a near rebellion. I guess what I am getting at is that change does happen and often it needs to happen, but that does not mean this change will be easy. In fact, some changes, no matter how necessary and no matter how small, are not accepted. The naysayers win the day. All of this can be seen in every level of society and I think most of us have had to either introduce change or be asked to change.

 

And like everyone, I have been a jerk when someone tries to make me change a system if the current system is working. If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it, right? If the change is going to cause me to learn a lot of new things that slow me down or asks me to alter my finances or my actions, I typically balk and join a little faction of other people who would rather overthrow the institution that goes the way of the change.

 

So. With that being said, I get to our topic of change today – Church Capital Campaigns. Church Capital Campaigns are attempts by a congregation to raise extra funds from their particular flock to either renovate a current part of the building, or to raise extra cash to pay for a whole new set of buildings. Both of these two ventures are introductions of change because people are asked to give more money and because the leadership usually forms its focus around this project. In other words, leaders shift their focus to get their congregants to get on board with the new change.

 

But, I have to say that any sort of change that tries to open wallets wider is the most difficult change to get people to accept. People tend to not like when churches are asking for any money from them much less asking them for even more money. Knowing this, a church that is trying to raise extra capital really needs to bring in experts who know how to introduce this most difficult change. These experts are called Change Agents.

 

Change Agents understand how to bring about the vision of new church design and shifts in architecture, slowly bringing the church members to buy-in. How do they do this?

 

More on that in the next article…

May 30, 2016

Capital Campaigns

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — John Jones @ 6:24 pm

Capital Campaigns

If you are in leadership at a church that is growing and needs more space for a family life center, a larger sanctuary or really anything that needs to be built, there is usually a need for a capital campaign. Building a new chapel or expanding a new children’s area takes a lot of money and most churches don’t have the millions in cash just laying around to pay for these changes in full from the start. So, churches all over the country are raising money using capital campaigns, which is an extended plea for the congregation to give more of their money to fund the project. Typically, a church brings in consultants who have the experience to lead such a campaign and can greatly aid in budgeting and even influencing people in the church to give more. Some of the higher end architecture firms who engage in consulting churches can also be the builders, which makes it nice so you have partnership from beginning to end.

So, what should you look for in a capital campaign partnership?

First, I’d recommend finding one of those soup to nuts architecture firms who know how to lead a congregation in fundraising and who can build out the entire vision.

Second, I would make sure that whomever you hire for this major role is cutting-edge in how they present the project. Many companies offer 3D animations and produce architectural renderings that show the congregation how the building is going to look before a shovel ever breaks ground. This gets a congregation fired up when they can see exact images. They tend to give more money to something that they can look at. Many companies can show and tell and get some of the early detractors on board.

May 2, 2016

Local Business Legends: Part One

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Jones @ 6:40 pm

Let’s just say I was super impressed with two businesses I visited the other day – both of them housed in the same building.  Both of them are super professional and both of them are run by the same owner, who exudes passion about what he doing on a national scale.

Halo Architects is well known around the country as a unified team who does church architecture and church design (as well as commercial, institutional, etc.).  Their project managers are good at their jobs and all you have to do is check out their portfolio to catch the excellent implementations of the company vision.  Halo works closely with their clients to make sure their architects are completing the jobs efficiently and precisely.

The second business is called Gone Virtual and often works closely with Halo Architects.  Gone Virtual is also involved in church design, but they use special 3D animation technology to create renderings and 3D virtual tours for clients who are about to set their course in building new campaigns.  This ability to show church 3D animation is key in church capital campaigns exactly what is going to happen.  This makes people relax but it also allows for good dialogue to occur so that people can have buy-in.  I’ve worked at three churches which have done capital campaigns and the best of them showed the 3D animation to prepare the congregation.  Everyone wanted what they saw and there was a consensus for the church to go full-steam ahead.

So those are the basics of these businesses and I think they approach legendary because they do what they say under strong leadership and they always work to please their clients. You don’t find my businesses like these two.  I’d definitely model my next business like theirs – good enough, eh?

 

 

 

February 5, 2016

Young Legends: Sparta versus Pre-K

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , — John Jones @ 5:24 pm

How can you prepare someone to be a legend?

Can you tell if your child is going to be legendary when he/she grows up?

What can you do to produce and develop legends from a young age?

I think about how the Spartans of old would begin developing their kids for legend status from the moment their babies came out of the womb – I consider the difficult tasks they pressed onto their children so they could see if fear or fire would win the days.  The fearful were usually dealt with severely and the brave were celebrated.  The Spartans built fighting machines who would stand next to their brothers in war and who would win battles against foes they should never have defeated.  The Spartan armies are legendary but whenever I think of their harsh teaching methods I wonder if that style should ever be copied.

I get the pleasure of working for a Lubbock Pre K (and Lubbock Kindergarten) and after seeing how they run the school as a training ground for kids, I am struck by the thoughts, “Could these children become legends after attending a private school like this?” and “Does it even matter if they become legendary?”

This Pre K in Lubbock does not treat their children harshly.  This Pre K does not drop near impossible tasks onto the paths of their students.  This Lubbock private school does not just celebrate the fearless and forget the fearful.  This school is not even aiming to make legends – at least not in the traditional sense.  This Christian school is there to educate students and to help develop them into Christian disciples (as most private Christian schools do).  They do this with compassion and care for each young person who signs up to be a part of their population.  The teachers and administrators model justice and love and help the kids follow in their footsteps.

You see the stark difference here, don’t you?

The Spartan model versus the American Pre-K through 12th grade model leads me to wonder – what would be better?

It’s true that Spartans were tough and nearly unstoppable as warriors.  It’s also true that there are many kids in our current culture being brought up as entitled, Youtube addicts.  But does this make the Spartan way the better way?

I would admit that most public schools are churning out lazy techno-heads, but I make the argument that private Christian schools which actually promote an active Christianity are making more legends than would a Spartan way.  Following Jesus is no joke – Just look at Paul and/or the martyrs to see that you have to be extremely tough.  You have to accept rejection and external hate as a way of life.  You have to die to what you want to do and accept God’s will without negotiation.  You even have to be willing to turn your back on how this world does its thing and suffer to the death for the truth of the Gospel.

This Lubbock Pre-K and Kindergarten (as well as all the others in the U.S.) are making legends  as they show children how to slowly grab hold of the Jesus model for making legends – one of self-sacrifice and supernatural power.  I have seen proof of their success in my nephew who went has taken on this sort of Christianity.  I have seen evidence of serious discipleship from his friends who grew up at the same school.

I didn’t think I was going to do this when I first started this blog, but I’m going to have to give the legend-preparation award to Private Christian Schools.  They develop warriors who do battle in this world and in a world beyond this one.  That’s a pretty big deal to me…

 

September 16, 2015

Random Legends: Scouring for Candidates

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — John Jones @ 8:00 pm
Bono the Legend!!!

Bono the Legend!!!

So, as I seek to find people who fit into a certain brand of Legend, I have decided to start asking people around me about what they think makes someone legendary.

Being in West Texas and in Lubbock mainly, I always hear the name Buddy Holly thrown out there as a legend who died before his time.  It’s like a given out here.  He is the first name that comes out of people’s mouths 99 out of 100.  I wonder why.

Nothing against old Buddy – I know how his style influenced a lot of other musicians and I know that his songs are all pretty cool.  But, is that enough to make him a legend?

Does talent, plus popularity, plus an early death equal LEGEND?

If so, then Buddy Holly is one for sure.

I recently asked a Texas College professor who is familiar not only with my search for legends, but who is also from the days when Buddy Holly lived and breathed.  (I met this guy a while back while we were sharing a Midland extended stay suite – you meet the most fascinating people who are on temporary assignments…)

“Is Buddy Holly a legend?” I asked simply.

He responded, “Well, lots of people consider him one, but not me.  I like his music and he was a cool fellow if you like young men who could rock it out with the best of them.  But still, legend is a big time label to drop on someone so young, don’t you think?”

I paused and considered my own stance on Buddy H.  I also enjoy some of his music, but I had to agree with this well-educated instructor of young minds.  The label of Legend is too big for a guy like Buddy.  So I said back to this Texas college professor (who is also a millionaire in the oil business), “I’d put him in the music hall of fame for sure.  But I don’t think he qualifies for legendary status.  I’d probably be strung up if I said that in certain circles in Lubbock.  But, you’re right.  His death was a tragedy, but a few good songs and some influence on a tiny part of life does not a legend make.”

The professor just smiled at me and finally continued, “I don’t even think Elvis is a legend.  People loved him and still do.  He is an icon.  But not a legend.”

“Okay,” I say.  “Then what singer would you say crosses past talent and icon status?  Is there anyone you would consider a legend?”

I was shocked by his answer – more because I hadn’t thought of it myself than because I disagree.

“Bono is a legend,” he said.

I nodded my head.  “You got it.  He is.  He has made great music and influenced others in that industry, but he has also changed the actions of governments so that the oppressed and needy have been helped on a large scale.  He is a legend.”

Older people, like this Texas Colleges professor, keep proving to me that wisdom can be found if you just ask the experienced to weigh in on stuff.

What say you, readers?

Do you think Bono is a legend for crossing industry lines to effect the world?

Who else in the music business would you consider more than an icon?

Who else is a world-shaking legend?

I’ll see you next time.

September 9, 2015

When you have to move from the Big City…

Los Angeles is big.

It sprawls.

It takes fifteen minutes to get to the grocery store and the groceries you get there are 3x more expensive than smaller cities.

Traffic can be a beast even when there is no wreck – When there is a wreck, forget moving – put on an audio book trilogy or learn some Russian via your iPhone Rosetta.

The air quality is bad.

Rent is high.

The people are by and large desperate and hopeless.

But, the weather is typically nice.

And despite the above mentioned junk, there is culture to be had, great diverse food to be eaten, nearby beaches which are next to awe-inspiring waters, nearby mountains which are next to amazing skiing runs, and the ever-hope that what was “almost” yesterday can become “yes” and “victory.”

I used to live in that city and while it was hard, it was fun.  It had energy.  And as long as the credit cards kept spending (avoid the cc declines), I could go and do some cool stuff with creative people.  As well, I could write about the interesting people, places and things I saw and I was rarely left with a creative block.

But then I had to move away from the big city.

I had to move to West Texas for a while to take a job.

West Texas is cheaper.  People are nice.  They seem to be focused on being polite and to actually care about you.  They all seem to work in normal settings and call this area “a good place to raise a family.”

I wasn’t going to be raising a family in West Texas.  I wasn’t going to be there long enough for a gestation period to happen.  I was assigned here for three months and was given the choice to rent a a short term apartment, crash with people my boss knew, or jump into short-term housing (corporate housing or short term furnished housing) in Lubbock, Amarillo and/or Midland.

I chose Lubbock short-term housing for one month.  Then Amarillo short-term furnished apartments for the second month.  And for the third month, I went with corporate housing in Midland.

And let me say this:  While I experienced a dearth of culture, high, dusty winds, wild accents, no mountains, no ocean views and some writer’s block, I actually loved my time in West Texas.  I know this might sound weird, but I think my month-long stays in the three different ‘extended stay’ locations made all the difference in the world.  Living in well-appointed settings and next to ‘neighbors’ who were in transition made me think a lot about life – about being in short-term settings alongside others who had their own reasons for choosing this type of housing.

There were friends to be made in my month long stays and I definitely made friends I’ll never forget.

I’ll tell you about these legendary friends who lived with me in legendary quarters in future blogs.

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