Written on January 17th, 2007 by Shawn Anthony
I attended an ‘Excellence in Ministry’ mashup yesterday (technically, a mashup is a website or application that combines content from more than one source into an integrated experience, but the idea does translate well to specific human gatherings wherein content from more than one source is discussed and integrated). The professional gathering was produced and sponsored by the Atlantic Conference of the Brethren in Christ. It was a great day of connection and discussion between Brethren in Christ pastors, church planters and staff from New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. A lot of great ideas were exchanged.
We began our meeting at Keystone Helicopter Corporation. There we toured an absolutely incredible multi-million dollar facility. We were also offered a rare peek at some of the helicopters being built and serviced in huge work bays. The work environment at the factory was incredibly relaxed, while at the same time seriously focused on a clear mission and measurable end goals. The helicopter factory is a friendly, well-oiled machine that pumps out 23 million dollar helicopters and - this is a big ‘and’ - invests into its employees in a way that makes them so much more than mere assembly line workers. It was obvious that these employees understood and embraced their collective position as an intimate and integral part of the entire project that is the Keystone Helicopter Corporation. It was an awesome environment, to say the least.
The President and COO of Keystone Helicopter Corporation is a devoted member of the Brethren in Christ. He is also a board member of the B.I.C congregation he attends. He and our Atlantic Conference Bishop worked together to make this conference-wide mashup happen. We listed intently to the intimate presentation the President offered to us after our factory tour concluded. He talked a lot about the correlations between business and the way we do church. The transcendence of relationships and professionalism was a key theme of his talk; both are important to business and church. He also said that while there may be many similarities in the ways we do business and church, and indeed many opportunities for each side to learn a great deal from one another, in the end, business is about money and the church is about lives and souls. It was a great talk, filled with much wisdom. The discussion(s) continued as we all transitioned from the helicopter factory to a much more familiar church conference room at a different location, where we tackled the rest of our day’s agenda.
What a day! What a ministry conference! Here are a few mashup notes I scribbled down throughout the day (at the helicopter factory & the church conference room):
1. Surround yourself by dedicated/competent people. 2. Don’t try to micro-manage. 3. Keep the customer/person in clear focus. 4. Deal with the bad ideas, not the people making them. 5. Reacting harshly to people who make mistakes is a sure-fire way to teach them to keep their mouths shut next time and completely disengage. 6. Be clear - real clear - about the end agenda and what it actually is. 7. Engage people’s creativity, but keep them focused on the outcome or goal. Give latitude for creativity. Creativity leads to authentic job satisfaction. 8. Church & business are different (volunteer/employee & eternity/money). 9. Mingle and engage in all elements of the congregation. 10. Make sure you spend some time in the office with your door closed and your phone turned off. 11. Be sure to clarify and articulate the vision - if you do not it is sure to be garbled as it moves down and through the system. 12. let the organization rest when change is not required. 13. Gauge how rapidly change should be pushed. 14. Do not allow the job to completely consume you. 15. The corporation will consume you, if you permit it to do so. 16. Saturday is for family.
It was a very, very edifying time of discussion, fellowship and learning. Yes, the discussion was dedicated to excellence in ministry, but I also learned that the Brethren in Christ is full of great pastors. It was a great time. I was happy and honored to be part of such a well put together gathering.