Leaders understand the importance of leading the conversation about the organization.
This past week I saw a great example of leadership and leading the conversation. Our Naperville downTOWN location found out that for three consecutive weekends that they would not be able to meet at Naperville North High School due to construction on the auditorium and cafeteria. This would mean a number of challenges:
- Trying to find an alternative site that would work for several hundred adults, students and kids.
- Communicating to hundreds more where they would be meeting during those three weekends.
- Figuring out how to do set-up and tear-down in a brand new site.
- Making the programming work for our adult celebration service, Kid City and StuCo in brand new spaces.
- And do all this and more while trying to create enough momentum to start an additional celebration service this Fall.
The first reaction for many in a multi-site setting would be, “let’s just close it down for those three weekends and have people go to another site.” And since the downTOWN site is in Naperville and our largest permanent site is also in Naperville to many that would be a logical choice. Another reaction for many would be to complain about it for three weeks and try to suck it up. Neither choice understands leading the conversation.
I love the reaction of Troy McMahon and his team. They took this news and immediately began to talk about it as a great adventure that would be so much fun that no one would want to miss it. They planned and communicated three “exciting” weekends at three different sites! And for those that missed the communication they had a greeter who met them at Naperville North High School with a CD giving them directions on where to go and a focus on the BIG IDEA for the week. They made sure to create a “wow” with each weekend – everything from a brunch to a kazoo band accompanying a Linkin Park tune to church in a tent to having Kid City in the local children’s museum and much more! The result? The first Sunday they had a record summer attendance! Why? Troy and his team led the conversation in a positive and exciting direction and people believed them, talked about the upcoming experience in a positive and exciting way and followed.
I have known brilliant pastors who didn’t understand how to lead the conversation. They would talk bad about the people in their church and constantly refer to the shortcomings of the church. Eventually those churches died. Why? Because they led the conversation in a negative direction and people believed them and then talked the same way about the church.
Since the first days of Community Christian Church, Jon and myself have talked about “managing the conversation”. A better term is probably “leading the conversation”. What does leading the conversation mean?
- Leading the conversation means that everything you say and everything you write is moving people toward the vision that you hope to see some day.
- Leading the conversation doesn’t meant that you never say anything negative. You need to address the brutal facts – but that happens in private.
- Leading the conversation means that you are very intentional about your words; particularly your words in a public setting.
- Leading the conversation means you are constantly “catching people do it right” and talking about it.
Well, tomorrow Troy and his team face week #2 and they are meeting in a tent outside in 95 degree heat – and I want to be there more than any other place!! Leaders understand the importance of leading the conversation about the organization.