Archives For Productivity

modernized-tithing-texting-kiosksAs the Church has progressed into the 21 Century, many of its functions have been modernized.  We have guest services instead of ushers. Our fellowship halls in the back of the buildings have become Café’s and lounges in the front of the Church. Our music has moved from Hymnals to Projectors. Yet with all the modernization the Church is going through, one thing remains etched in the stones of the past – Our systems of tithes and offerings.

Fewer People are carrying Cash or Checks

Fewer and fewer people in today’s society pay with cash or checks. We even find that Millennials are using credit cards at an all-time low, as well. This leads to a dilemma for Churches. How do we get people to give tithes and offerings, when their only choices of giving are cash, checks and sometimes credit cards?

Here are some surprising trends in Consumer Spending:

  • 2 out of 5 people carry less than $20 on their person (Bankrate)
  • 38% of consumers NEVER write checks. Another 20% only write a few per year (The Financial Brand)
  • 6 in 10 Millennials do not have a credit card (Washington Post)

These trends will eventually become a tipping point to where the tithe and offerings payment options offered do not reflect the payment methods people have with them while at Church.

A New Approach to Giving

It is true that people carry less cash, write fewer checks and carry less credit card debt, but there is one interesting fact. They all have money in a bank. The issue is the way they spend money. Their payment methods now consist of paying bills and buying goods online with a bank card.

Knowing this, we can create a system that capitalizes on the congregations ability to pay electronically. Better yet, we can make giving even more easier, increasing the revenues that come into our churches. Even better, giving doesn’t have to be done in a 5 minute devotional time in between Worship and preaching. It can be done at any time in the lobby or on their cell phones.

Part 1: SMS Text Messaging

Everyone has their smartphone in your service. A lot of them are using You Version to follow the message. Knowing they do mobile banking, why not offer them an easy way to tithe?

Enter This service, and others like it, allows Churches to setup giving via Text Message. You have seen these in various forms, most notably the Red Cross. You have seen their advertisements for, “Text #XXXX to donate $10.”

With this solution, your Church sets up a giving number. You then include this number in bulletins or during announcements. People text the amount they want to give to the number and they are done. It is fast and simple for both the Church and the congregation.

Part 2: Congregation Based Giving Apps

Tablets are taking the World by storm. Combining these with smartphones, we can account for nearly every person attending a Worship service. We can make it as easy to give as creating an app that allows them to give right from their smartphone or tablet.

How do you create a giving app without spending a fortune to develop it? Well, there is an app for that. It’s called Givelify offers Churches a branded app for tithing and offerings. Pricing varies, but it is priced the way a credit card transaction is priced: example – 2.9% + $0.30 per donation. Users are used to this, since this is how paypal charges its fees.

The trick is getting people to download the app. The trick is to use QR codes. In your Worship service handouts and in announcements, place a QR code that leads to the app install. A simple click of the camera and the app is installed. From there, the user can give anytime he or she feels led.

Part 3: Giving Kiosks

Giving Kiosks are beginning to gain traction with Pastors. Why limit giving to the actual Church service, when you can allow people to give before and after service, as well? A giving kiosk will stand in the foyer area of the Church and provide visitors the easiest way possible to give their tithes and offerings.

They consist of three parts, an ipad, giving app and a stylish modern kiosk. SecureGive offers this as an all in one package. It can be seen at

SecureGive did a survey of Churches that used its services and found that giving increased by 27%. The study also found that the offerings given on the kiosk were 20% higher than non-kiosk giving.

With these applications in place, Churches can encourage giving from the front of the Church to the back of the Church. Thanks to technology, not only can we make giving easier, we can do it in an affordable manner.  All of the solutions mentioned are cost effective and provide a very low barrier of entry so that every Church can get in and test these new ways of giving.


I recently had the chance to connect with Bryan Miles of eaHELP to talk about remote va (virtual assistance) at the executive assistant level. Here’s the video interview – enjoy!

I’ve sat down to talk with Bryan in the past, but I recently became a client taking on an EA for my own business myself and have been very impressed with their on-boarding process where they assign an additional “implementation manager” who helps with the transition of setting up the relationship and progression of initial delegation over a couple of weeks.

While I’ve used a bunch of project-specific and task-specific VA’s in the past, this is the first time I’m taking on a VA to support me across my entire portfolio of projects and business workflow.

If you’ve had the benefit of a remote assistant, would you share one tip or some of your experience with regard to getting the most out of the relationship and resource? Please leave a comment below.

It’s been a month since you’ve settled on your New Year’s resolutions.  How’s that working out for you?

Here’s one worthy change in your routine that might have missed your list — but it is easy to learn, easy to implement, amazing in what it will do for your life at work.  Address head on, the dread that you have for going into work.

First you have to acknowledge that your workplace has become a place where you can’t get any work done:


Only after this realization, can you take up the Modern Meeting Manifesto and take aim at the crippling reasons for death by meeting that we all experience working with others in the work environment of today.  This past year, I was fortunate enough to read the short but powerful book by Al Pitampalli — Modern day warrior against the machine.

Al Pitampali - Modern Meeting Standard

Like Jason Fried, Al has taken the risk of prescribing some radical things that our current workplace environments don’t accept too easily.  But if you can embrace just a couple of the prescriptions that Al provides in his book, The Modern Meeting Standard, your 2013 will be dramatically different in nature.

So go ahead, take a quick read and then dare to make a difference in order to get off of the hamster wheel you are stuck in.  If you’re smart you’ll follow the 7 principles of the Modern Meeting Manifesto:

  1. Meet only to support a decision that has already been made.  Meetings aren’t for making decisions by committee.
  2. Move fast. End on schedule. Force yourself to hold brief meetings.  Once you do this, you’ll force yourself to *not* waste time and get to the point.
  3. Limit the number of attendees. To many meetings are simply informational for various participants.  Quit it.  Only gather people who can refute, confirm or change the decision being presented.
  4. Reject the unprepared.  Send out agendas prior to the meeting period.  No agenda, cancel the meeting.
  5. Produce committed action plans.  Hold people accountable.  Don’t just say the group will do things.
  6. Refuse to be informational. Read the memo, it’s mandatory.  Meeting leaders must do their work before the meeting.  Participants must do their work before the meeting.
  7. Work with brainstorms, not against them.  Brainstorms are one reason to bring several people into the same room together.  Embrace it.

One of the big items all of this points to is that meetings are expensive.  They interrupt a lot of co-workers from doing uninterrupted productive work.  And the combined cost to bring all those people into a single room is crazy expensive.  Meetings can be short.  Meetings can have less people.  Meetings can produce more results and momentum.  Only if you convene meetings only when necessary.

What is stopping you from just canceling the next recurring meeting that you lead?  What consequences would there be if you really did NOT hold it this week?

It still surprises me a bit that whenever I mention that I actively use virtual assistance across the various projects I’m managing, it is still somewhat of a novelty.  The majority of people have not used any sort of remote help. . . yet.

But whenever I have walked someone through the process of finding and utilizing outsourced help, it has been a big win — and in a couple of cases, they have become basically addicted to scaling their work with the help of remote assistants.   This can come in form form of help with small finite tasks as well as hiring contractors to do full blown large-scale projects.


One way virtual help can have a big impact for most business workflows is the role of executive assistant.  This is where Bryan Miles, founder of Miles Advisory Group comes into the picture.  Bryan has built out a service providing proficient virtual executive assistants who are all US-based, native-English speakers, technologically adept, and as he explains a bit in this interview, typically are of a much higher caliber than for what you probably would be utilizing them for.

Bryan Miles - MAG Miles Advisory Group

Check out how he describes the service MAG & eaHelp provides in this video interview below.  (the video session went totally 8-bit on us in a couple of spots, and Bryan looks like he’s morphing into Wreck-It Ralph here and there, but the audio is just fine and you’ll be able to appreciate the interview content just fine). Continue Reading…

god works outside your comfort zone


Are you good at what you do?

I take pride in working hard at what I do and becoming incrementally better at it as time goes on.  I strive to be creative, focused, effective, impactful, trustworthy, inspiring. . .

But sometimes, that’s not good enough.

Lately, I’ve had the opportunity to zoom out a bit and become self-aware of where I am now with my vocation, my art, my passion.   I’ve been reflecting on that fact that it is relatively easy to become great at what we do as long as it is all about doing just that same thing around which we draw convenient boundaries.

And it’s also easy to forget that sometimes, that is not where we’re called to be.  You’re not meant to live inside that small box.  Because there’s something greater out there just beyond your comfort zone.

Where are you living lately?  Would you share what’s going on in your world with a comment?



my desk at work - workspace environment

Here’s a photo of my current workspace. The environment in which you work is so important since it effects your ability to focus, concentrate, collaborate, and be creative.

Here are some photos of inspiring corporate workspace environments:

Swatch Office

Three Rings Agency
creative workspace

Switzerland Fed Institute of Tech’s Architectural School
Federal Swiss Institute of Tech creative lab space


Open workspace
team collaboration spaces

Need more inspiration? I love this blog with the tag line “this ain’t no disco, it’s where we work” – great photo galleries of creative work environments from around the world.

What does your current workspace look like?  Go ahead and share a photo of it here below with us.  Whether it looks like a tornado hit or if it is a clean as a clean room.  It would be great to see what the current state of your own workspace environment looks like right this minute.

You can upload to instagram, twitpic, flickr, or other photo site and drop a link below.  Or even embed the image in your reply.  Super users can take a video clip and share a tour of your own space. 

The recent post where I shared the 5 questions I sit down and ask and answer myself at the end of each week has been a popular post.  It is encouraging to hear the feedback that you are considering to start the same of simliar praxis.

For me, having a mechanism to regularly check in to increase self-awareness of various milestones I’m going through as well as the potential obstacles and opportunities ahead has been very fruitful.  Some of you have asked to be able to see and read the 5 actual questions I use in my own journal.  I print out a page with multiple copies of the set of 5 questions and then cut them out so they’re accessible whenever I need them.

five questions for your own self-reflection and productivity journal

I just opened up a new 3-pack of  8.5″ x 5.5″ thin journals which I picked-up from Staples.  I love the green color cover and the pocket inside the front cover where I can stash my little cut outs of 5 questions ready to be taped to a new page.  

Journal with pocket

There really is something to putting pen to paper and writing, drawing and listing out various things that are evolving in my head.  And having the prompt at the top of new journal entry is much better than always looking back and trying to remember which question I’m answering on a given page.

tape down the 5 questions and answer!

If you missed the video where I walk through the 5 questions in a bit more detail and what I’m trying to adress with each, check out the original video post here.

BTW, I really love reading your comments and emails and seeing how you keep yourself in check and how some of you are even modifying the questions to suit your own context/niche/industry/needs.  Be sure to leave a comment below!

Do you think a weekly journal check-in is too frequent? Not enough? Or just right?


Tomorrow is another day, another week.  That means that Sunday evening is a time unwind, rewind, and re-focus the mind.

Here’s a personal praxis of mine which I wanted to share with you since it has come up twice recently with some friends in conversation.  I thought it might be useful to share this with you, but also to solicit input from you too as to what you are doing, or what you think could help improve this weekly exercise.

Basically, I find the time toward the end of every week to pause and ask myself 5 questions about the week that just passed as well as the week ahead.  Michael Hyatt and others suggest you review your life plan topline objectives each and every day so you can keep you eye on the prize and have better operational discernment as things come up.

Self reflective power questions for better productivity

Similarly, these 5 questions help me re-tune/re-align my energy and focus using self-reflective feedback as well as revisiting strategic vision on a regular basis. I’m finding that one of the biggest benefits is that the result gives me permission to take more things off my plate every week because they are not supportive of where I’m trying to go in the big picture. It helps me pour more into the activities, programs and people who are important to me.

Here’s a short video clip sharing the 5 questions I ask myself at the end of every week:


What I do is have an actual printout with the questions on the page multiple times.  Then I cut out the paper strips containing all 5 questions each so that each strip can be easily pasted into a blank book journal like a MoleSkine.  And then I go through and answer each question one of a time and write out or draw out my response.  Being able to look back at some of the previous responses has been very instructive too.

I would love your feedback. If you’ve never done anything like this, is it something you might try out? 

What are your thoughts on making sure to hit these 5 questions weekly? Is it worth being self-aware of these things and carving out precious time in the schedule to accomplish it each and every week?  What other questions would you ask of yourself?

Seth Godin speech

Seth Godin and Kenny Jahng headshot


This past week, I had the delight of traversing the 2/3 Downtown Express subway to Tribeca and see Seth Godin speak for several hours.  The event was called “Pick Yourself.”

Tickets for Seth Godin Live in Tribeca May 16, 2012

A little bit unusual in format, but interesting enough that it had potential — Seth spoke for an hour or so walking through a several of this trademark stories, and then opened up the rest of the time to questions from the audience.

The upfront talk ended up circling around this one point — Stop waiting for the tyranny of waiting to be picked.  And simply, Pick Yourself.   Yup, you.

Seth Godin in New York City Live - talking about being remarkable

As an advisor to entrepreneurs, I agree that I’ve seen first hand how lacking the courage, initiative or persistence is a common denominator across most of the group that thinks of themselves as one…but consistently has trouble delivering.

Personally, I would have rather heard him talk straight for the entire day, instead of riffing off of random trajectories in thought from the diverse crowd.  But I did note that over time, it was interesting to see how Seth would literally say, “I’m not going to answer your question, but answer what I think would be a better question instead,” and then proceed to resurface some of the core axioms that roots everything he does.

Useful?  Sure.  Directly practical to the person offering the question?  Debatable.

Seth Godin answering audience questions in New York during his Live event in Tribeca


Here’s a nice little video interview that gets the point across:


What you get when you listen to Seth Godin from 9:30am — 4pm

As one of the tools to help me sort things out, I’ll use this space for a little journal-“ism.”  I suspect that I’ll revisit the topic a couple of times as I try to connect the dots with things going on in my own sphere.  So here goes:

  • Seth is calling your bluff.  Define the ultimate problem and solve it or just fail.  One of the exercises during the day was to define our business PROBLEM on a card that was handed out.  And then discuss it with a fellow Seth Godin fan next to you to see if you can diagnose it and come up with the next step for a SOLUTION.  Much of the day, including this exercise served to basically let you articulate what is keeping you from success objective.  But by defining it and making it a tangible external problem (with associated potential solution), Seth basically is basically forcing the issue and calling your bluff.  The reason why you’re not doing what you know you have to do in order to succeed in a radical way, is not because of all these other hypothetical issues.  It basically is because you have a lizard brain that thrives on inertia.  So if we can solve THIS problem, then you’ll be a rock star in your industry?  Really?  OK, let’s push forward and solve that problem then.

Seth Godin Pick Yourself Exercise -- Define your problem

Seth Godin fail fast or fail forward or perhaps. . . succeed


  • The title of the event was “Pick Yourself” – that’s code for “you now have permission to go off and do it.”  Seriously, Seth said so.  A lot of this feels like the natural extension of Tribes.  A large part of the reason why I’ve been able to do some really interesting stuff over the years is because this notion of “pick yourself” was instilled in me early on in my childhood.  I was very fortunate to have and teachers/advisors within my primary school years to really apply an approach that empowered me and my peers.  Looking back, some of us were given a huge amount of responsibility at a very young age for extracurricular activities.  The result was understanding that if you want something that doesn’t exist yet, just go create it.  If something isn’t optimal, you can improve it.  If you want something big to happen, convince, sell, evangelize and lead a following.  This Pick Yourself stuff ain’t new, but it’s still always good to hear the same charge to crowd once in awhile.

Kenny Jahng's copy of Seth Godin's Pick Yourself Manifesto


In case you want the actual text of the Pick Yourself Manifesto by Seth Godin, here it is, nice and clean:

Pick Yourself


You want the authority to create, to be noticed and to make a difference? You’re waiting for permission to stand up and speak up and ship?

Sorry. There’s no authority left.

Oprah has left the building. She can’t choose you to be on her show because her show is gone. YouTube wants you to have your own show now, but they’re not going to call you.

Dick Clark has left the building. He’s not going to be able to get you a record deal or a TV gig because his show is long gone. iTunes and a hundred other outlets want you to have your own gig now, but they’re not going to call you either.

Neither is Rodney Dangerfield or the head of programming at Comedy Central. Louis CK has famously proven that he doesn’t kneel to the tyranny of the booker — he picked himself.

Our cultural instinct is to wait to get picked. To seek out the permissioin, authority and safety that comes from a publisher or talk show host or even a blogger saying, “I pick you.”

Once you reject that impulse and realize that no one is going to select you — that Prince Charming has chosen another house  — then you can actually get to work.

The myth that the CEO is going to discover you and nurture you and ask you to join her for lunch is just that, a Hollywood myth.

Once you understand that there are problems just waiting to be solved, once you realize that you have all the tools and all the permission you need, then opportunities to contribue abound. Not the opportunity to have your resume picked form the pile, but the opportuniyt o lead.

When we take responsibility and eagerly give credit, doorss open. When we grab a microphone and speak up, we’re a step closer to doing the world we’re able to do.

Most of all, when you buckle down, confront the lizard and ship your best work, you’re becoming the artist that you are capable of becoming.

No one is going to pick you. Pick yourself.


  • The web is not a broadcast medium.  It is the first to do both — transmit AND receive.  That brings a lot of new conundrums with it including new expectations based on new possibilities.  Social media is not about tools.  It is about connections.
  • Don’t just define success.  Define ‘failure’ before you start.  Now, when you reach that point, you can STOP.  LEARN. and then move on to the next enterprise.  This is an echo of what I find myself teaching coaching clients early on.  We need to fail quickly.  So that we can fail forward.  What we do is never going to be the big thing on the first try.  second try.  third try.  So we need to figure out if what we’re doing now is it or not.  We need to move it with such velocity so that we can quickly know if it is a failure.  If it is, pick up the next thing and move on.  If not, then move forward faster till you find the answer.
Seth Godin being remarkable
Seth Godin storytelling
[event photos creative commons Seth Godin squid11 on Flickr]

Those are my four big ideas so far from Seth’s talk and Q&A.  Nothing earth-shattering.  I’m sure I’ll have more to articulate in the weeks and months ahead.  But something to be used as an excuse to take up that fight against the lizard brain and figure out how to *ship* as soon as possible.

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM SETH GODIN RECENTLY?  Have you read Linchpin, Tribes, or any of his other books?  Go ahead and write that reflection down in the comments below and see where that will lead you.

If you’re like most organizational leaders, a significant part of what you do on a daily basis is process emails. . . Responding to emails, initiating emails, filing, deleting and forward emails.  We all do it.

The problem with the clear majority (95%+!!!) of email is that when you sit down to process your email inbox, you are deciding to let other people’s agendas dictate how you spend your time IMHO.  So figuring out how to tame that inbox is one of the most strategic things you can do for your own work.

One of my colleagues is a master of killing that inbox every day.  So I asked Rich Birch, to share some of his best practices for dealing with email.  Take heed and you’ll find hours being freed up every week so that you can spend more time on things that are on *your* agenda, not others’.  Enjoy today’s post below.

Remember when email was fun? I do.
I was one of those kids with an email address in the 80s. It’s true. My parents got me a subscription to CompuServe because it had an online encyclopedia. I used to sell access to my friends . . .only $0.25 per printed page! (But that’s another story!) Back in those days it was magical to send emails to people all over the country.


Email isn’t fun anymore. In fact, for most people serving in a church, it’s a drag. It seems like an interruption to what God is calling you to do. Your behind on answering your emails and afraid that there is a message waiting from someone who is disappointed you haven’t got back to them . . . so for some weird reason we avoid dealing with our email . . . and the cycle continues.

Email Inbox Processing Best Practices

I need to confess . . . I kinda like email. It’s a great way to move information around . . . to prepare people for face to face meetings . . . to connect with a wide variety of people.

Here are 6 “not-so-obvious” email tips from what I’ve learned after almost 25 years of trying to figure out this email thing . . .

1. Email Is Not Your Job

Don’t mistake what you are called to do in your ministry with doing email. Email is just a tool. You are called to connect people to the church and build up leaders. Email simply aids the core function that you do. If you feel like all you do is email all day – talk with your supervisor and restructure your job. You are more valuable to the Kingdom than just answering email.

2. Schedule Your Time

Set aside time every day when you are going to process all of your emails. Don’t just keep scanning the list of emails . . . “checking email” is not dealing with emails. Sit down for an hour and respond, delegate, defer or even delete every email. When I’m at my email best – I’m up early in the morning and cranking through the email from the day before.

3. Don’t Use a Smart Phone

 I’ve had a Palm Pilot, BlackBerry, iOS devices and my beloved Android. These are all fun toys for filling in time when you have a few extra minutes during your day. They are terrible for processing email. All you ever do on a Smart Phone is read the headlines of emails . . . which gives you the false sense that you are actually dealing with your inbox. You’re not. Put the iPhone back in your pocket and go do your work . . . later sit down at a computer and do your email.

4. Filters Are Your Friends

Every email program has some sort of filter function built in. These filters will automatically process emails when they come into your inbox. I currently have over 40 filters running on my inbox. I have emails that I get every month that I need to forward to other people . . . my system automatically forwards those emails and I don’t ever see them in my inbox. I want to highlight emails from some people as urgent when they arrive . . . as soon as my email sees that certain people email me it flags them for me. I’ve heard that some people will even filter out those pesky forwards from parents who always send them their way . . . of course I’ve just heard about that and have never done that. 😉

5. Reply Sparingly

There is only one sure fire way to reduce the amount of email traffic coming into your inbox. Send less email. I’ve sent 28,000 emails since 2007 . . . in that same time I’ve received 55,000 emails. Every time I send an email I think to myself “I am going to receive two emails in return . . . is this email that important?”

6. Use Gmail

I’m biased. Gmail is the solution for email power users. This cloud based system mops up any client based solution by a long shot. Their SPAM killing is amazing. You get tones of free space. You can harness the power of Google’s search technology for your personal information world. The threaded conversations keep you up to date. The “labs” feature has all kinds of great hacks for making email more efficient. It’s free. If you are still using an old school “client” to process your email . . . where have you been for the last 5 years?
I’d love to hear your tips for dealing with the email reality that we all face in ministry. [Leave a comment below on how you deal with email!]

Rich Birch - KillerChurch.comRich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000 people in 12 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Community Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. Currently Rich serves as Operations Pastor at Liquid Church in the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey.
Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution. He blogs at