Tag Archives: world-changers

How you get them to show up, part one.

“Pastor Jon, how can we get more people to register for our event?”

“Pastor Jon, we need someone to volunteer to teach that class. They are great kids. How can we get someone to help?”

“Jon, we’re doing a new 6-week study. Everyone should sign up.  I mean, it will be life-changing. But no one is. How can we make them come?”

Those are some of the questions I get asked regularly. (Or wish I got asked more often). I try to answer, but it is right before the event or I’m in the middle of something else, or we are having the conversation in the hallway on Sunday morning with 2 minutes until the next event starts.

I realized this morning that I could help myself and the people in our congregation who are planning events (and maybe you, especially for your nonprofit-related projects) by actually answering those questions before they are asked, before the last minute, perhaps even before the event is scheduled.  (This is part of “putting it on paper”, an idea you can read about in my post “simultaneous lives.”)

I’ll talk about a bunch of things as we go along. I may even spin stuff off to a new website. But I’ll give you one idea right now. One idea that can help get people to show up for events and volunteer for projects and sign up for studies and help you change the world.

Because that’s what you are about, right? I mean, the reason that you are pouring your energy and the energy of volunteers and the attention of the whole congregation or nonprofit organization or conference into this event or study or class is because it is about changing the world, right?

You looked at the outline you wrote for this study and you looked in the mirror and said, “I’ve done everything I could to make this provide as much return on investment for these people as I possibly could.” You’ve talked with the facilitators and can say, “these people care about lives way more than they care about attention.” You’ve taken care of the food and the childcare and the temperature and the planning team and every possible detail.

You haven’t?

You need to.

Peter Drucker says, “The non-profit organization exists to bring about a change in individuals and in society.”  (Managing the Nonprofit Organization sponsored link). We are asking people for limited resources and want to give them maximum opportunity to have that impact.

So my first question for helping them show up is this: “Have you honestly asked yourself how this will help them change the world?”

Go work on that. I’ll be back soon.


The changing course

Robb managed plants. Not like a horticultural kind of guy. In fact, Anna is the plant person that way. No, Robb managed plants and parts of plants that made parts. Car parts. The plastic kind of car parts.

He ended up with tough projects at times. He was the guy who would go in to manage the closing that someone else decided would happen. Because of his style, which values people and minimizes ego, the closing process could take awhile because, well, because productivity ended up improving. He was good at financial analysis and listening and suggesting.

A couple of years ago, however, he knew that changing the way production lines work wasn’t what he wanted to spend the rest of his life doing. He wanted to teach. More specifically, he wanted to teach junior high math. Or that’s what he thought he wanted.

We met one day to look at the results of some testing we were doing at the church. We were trying to help people find the thing that they were made for, the way to serve best. Robb and I talked, and he talked about this idea of going back to school on weekends to get a teaching certificate. We decided to get together that Friday at 6:30 am to talk to each other and to God about the decisions.

That one time became almost weekly. When I changed jobs, we moved our time from early Friday to noon on Monday. And two and half years later we met for the last time, last Wednesday. On Monday, tomorrow, Robb and Anna and their three children fly out of Chicago heading for Cascais, Portugal. Robb will be teaching math and science and maybe Bible in an international school in that town near Lisbon. Anna will spend part of the day taking care of their son, and part of the day teaching art. She’s also finishing her degree, online. Their two daughters will energize the school.

When we last talked, they weren’t sure exactly where they would be living….the school has people looking. They don’t have all of their salary raised (part of the salary is from the school, part of it is from supporters). They haven’t had more than six weeks from the official invitation to the time they leave.

They are, by the way some people measure, nuts. Great career. Gone. House. Left. New house. Unknown. Exact courses to teach. Unknown. Salary. Uncertain.


Robb and Anna trust God. They trust each other. They have survived challenges that make this seem small. They will learn and grow and thrive. They will change lives. They will change the world. Of this I am confident.

However. I’m going to miss our times together, Robb. You changed me, too. See you next summer.


To follow Robb and Anna (rawbanana) visit their blog.

and you may recognize Anna from twitter (alenardson) or from Lent2008.