Is it time for the Church to Adapt?

Is COVID the push the church needs to start adapting finally? We speak with guest David Miller, the VP of Coaching at the Slingshot Group, and the new author of “Improv Leadership,” on how the Church should adapt. 

On Instagram: @imdavidmiller, @SlingshotGroup

Improv Leadership: https://www.amazon.com/Improv-Leadership-Lead-Every-Moment/dp/0310112958


Transcriptions:

Mike Mage
Welcome to the healthy church growth podcast.

Welcome to the healthy church growth podcast where we believe that healthy things grow. And growth means life. I’m Mike, one of your hosts for the podcast. And before we get going here, I really just want to say thank you so much for joining us. These conversations we’ve been able to have with so many people has been like incredibly inspiring to Justin and I, and we just we continue to have so much fun and continue to learn so much and, and for you, our audience, we really hope that you are getting the same thing out of it as well. And if you are, we would absolutely love for you to right before we start, just make sure to share, subscribe, all that fun stuff, all that those that are the language that we’ve all had to learn during this COVID time for all of us going online for everything. But it really does help us when you share when you subscribe when you review When you drop us a DM on Instagram or Facebook, for us to connect with you so that we can continue on having these really great conversations. Joining us today, as always, I have my co host with me, Justin price, Justin, how you doing, man?

Justin Price
I’m doing great, Mike, thanks for the introduction. Also, thanks for the listeners for listening and for subscribing. It is. It’s super encouraging. So

Mike Mage
Yeah, this is this has just been a really cool journey for us a really cool endeavor to create a podcast about healthy church growth in the middle of a once in a century pandemic. So that’s been super cool. And today on our podcast, we have David Miller, who is the VP of coaching at the Slingshot Group, and he’s a brand new author of improv leadership. And he’s actually an old friend of mine. I met him back in Orlando when I was going to school at UCF. And you He was the student director of the church that I was attending. In Justin goose heading into this interview. what’s what’s one thing you know, that you can tell us that really just sort of struck you about this interview?

Justin Price
Well, first of all, that David’s just a super nice guy. And I gotta plug David for a second if you’re interested at all in some coaching the slingshot groups. They’re not a sponsor of the healthy church growth podcast, not yet. At least they don’t know. But I gotta say, you know, just just what a great guy David is. I think that if you you know if you need some coaching, definitely. I hope that this podcast is gonna just whet your appetite a little bit for what that could sound like from him because Mike and I just got a about a 40 minute coaching session from him that I know he was like, he was taking notes. I was taking notes I don’t I we blacked out at one point. I’m pretty sure You know, just trying to keep up with with the goal that that David was bringing. So yeah, I would say get out your notepad David’s just got a really really great perspective. He understands where you’re at in the church as a leader, as a creative as an ex rock star touring musician. He, he has been through many places that you guys have been through and, and what a refreshing perspective he’s got. So just just really, really cool. I know for us, we took a lot of good stuff away. And so without further ado, Mr. David Miller.

David Miller
Think about like what’s happening in culture nap? Yeah, right. Like the church and I mean people but like, let’s enter the church. The church has to be able to adapt right now. And it’s it’s fascinating to watch the churches and leaders that are adapting. Yeah.

Mike Mage
Welcome to the healthy church growth podcast. We’re so glad that You’re joining us today on our show, we have an incredible guest. One that I’m very, very excited about. We have David Miller, who is the VP of coaching at the Slingshot Group and new author of improv leadership and incredible book that just came out. David, thank you so much for joining us.

David Miller
Oh, man, it’s great to be with you.

Mike Mage
I, uh, so David and I, we actually have known each other for a while. And it’s been a while since we’ve seen each other. But I, David and I met, I don’t know, 10 12 13 years ago at a church that we used to work at or that he used to work out in Orlando that I attended. And David, I don’t know if you knew this, but I was. So I met you post dreads and so all I had ever heard fortunate. Yeah, well, it’s I know. So here’s the deal. I had heard that there was this new student director at this church that we were at, and I was like, I think they guy’s name is David Miller. And everyone’s like, oh, the guy with dreads, and that must have happened like five times. And so I got super excited. I’m like, man, he’s got dreads, like, this guy’s gotta be cool. And I meet you in no dreads and so the the first huge disappointment,

David Miller
huge disappointment.

Mike Mage
So the first question I have to ask is, was getting like a normal human haircut part of the job requirements? Or were you just finally able to pay for a haircut?

David Miller
Right? No, those are both valid, valid options. So So no, I so I would speak in at status and stuff, you know, the babies and young adult thing that we were doing while I was or just before actually I was teaching for like a group of kids that were like at risk teens. So it was like a kind of a ranch situation where they live there. They have, you know, these host families and then they go to school while I was a teacher, and in order for me to get that job, which was the job I had right before coming on as the student director. Yeah, they made me cut my hair. And I and I remember talking to my now wife, then then girlfriend and I was just like, I don’t know if I’m gonna take the job, they’re gonna let me cut my hair. I mean, I think that I’m probably gonna, you know, turn it down and she was like, Are you dumb? Like, be you know, go go go get the job. So

It was a yard of you though. So like that is it had become

There had become and here’s the here’s the thing now my hair is just weird you know but like you know I have to like then hair was such an identity thing I had like long girl hair before that like your hair down past the shoulders and you know the whole deal. So that became identity then all of a sudden the dreads the dreads became identity and so I don’t know, man, but yeah, no, I I almost I am I’m almost sorry that he met me after that. I feel like you missed out on on quite an experience. Yeah,

Mike Mage
I mean, you just morphed into like a totally different person in my head. Yeah, just just a dude. Yeah, just like yeah,

This is like another white guy that we brought on. Just exactly here and yeah, it’s not cool.

David Miller
Yep. No.

Mike Mage
Okay. I bet you Ashley was very happy that those were on their way out.

David Miller
So I was I was in a band that in college and so we went like to Ohio or something. I met this guy with dreads and I was like, Oh my God, that’s interesting. Like, who does that? You know, we were gonna be there for a little while. And I remember calling her and saying, hey, I’ve got a surprise when I get back from tour. And I came back from tour with dreads. I left with long hair and came back with dreads and that was the that was that was a great surprise for everybody.

Mike Mage
It was a surprise.

David Miller
Yeah. And she stuck it out with me. And that that speaks highly of her.

Mike Mage
Yeah. Well, David, that’s all we wanted to talk about. Thank you so much for coming on. Yeah,

David Miller
man. It was great. Just building healthy churches for creatives.

Mike Mage
Well, this pivot that no one knows really how to pivot out of here, but Obviously, like I said, you know, you’re the VP of the coaching division at the slingshot group. And we’d love to just hear a little more about what slingshot group does. I mean, it’s they have such a huge impact on the church right now. And then maybe a little bit about how you got into doing this. For sure.

David Miller
Yeah. So slingshot group, you know, it’s been around 13 and a plus years, you know, founded by two guys started in the world of worship. So, you know, Monty Kelso and Stan anacott, we’re both you know, really big in especially like, right, kind of right at the tail end of of what is known as like the worship wars, you know, where it was like, we’re a traditional church is going to become a contemporary church, and then how do we do that? They would coach people how to do that. And then they’d be like, well, gosh, we agree, but we have nobody who can actually, you know, actually lead now. So will you help us find someone and so really came out of their personal network from kind of record producing and stuff they had been doing with promise keepers and you know, all of that. They have been going for about five years. And, you know, they had decided, hey, we’re gonna we’re gonna really expand into helping all levels of the church, but we’re not experts in that I love when leaders know what they’re good at and what they’re not good at. Yeah. And they just said, we’re not experts at that. So we need to bring in experts for each of these divisions. And so they brought me in to really help to launch their student ministry division, most of my experience was in student ministry and and so they just kind of said, Hey, you know, you know, youth pastors, we know, you know, worship leaders, why don’t you come in help churches find the best youth pastors for their, for their staff, and, you know, really help them figure that out. And so the whole idea of slingshot group is you know, we have this tagline we build remarkable teams through staffing and coaching, okay. And it really that that’s that’s what we do all day long. We help find the right fit. We partner with churches to understand really, who they are what makes them unique and who would fit on their team. And then we find that person, and then and then we do coaching, will walk with that new staff member will come on to your team for a season and you know, help with leadership development. We do succession coaching, we, you know, we kind of, you know, just depends on really what what you need there. And so, for me, I started with with a lot of staffing and kind of almost as just earned a voice in the churches that I was, you know, helping Sure, and then they would kind of say, How else can you help us like, you know, we want you to stick around how else can you help us and it would morph into a really natural coaching relationship. And that’s, that’s where my role kind of shifted.

Mike Mage
Yeah, but super cool. Cool. Okay, well, obviously, you’ve been able to talk to a bunch of churches, sort of about their pain points and not just in student ministry, which I’m sure is a pain point for every every church. But as you’re coaching people And especially maybe even now over the past, you know, six months when everything just feels like it’s all been thrown up in the air and disrupted What do you see as like some of the more prevalent issues that people are really having trouble grasping?

David Miller
Yeah, I, you know, I think I think with leadership in general, we’ve become enamored by two things, we become enamored by talent, which makes sense, you know, I mean, when you are around a talented person, you know, you tend to lean in. And so we become really enamored by that we’ve also become enamored by almost that, that that stereotypical forceful leader that charged the hill mentality leader, and that’s that’s what’s and that’s what so much of our leadership is made of in the church are really those two things. What’s what we’ve found is that, you know, those two things can be great, but left to their own devices. They crumble because they they don’t really end up learning a lot of the basics of ministry. I mean, People have forgotten how to how to, you know, really excel in interpersonal communication. You know, people are struggling with leading up like me and the amount of conversations I have to have about leading up is is crazy because it’s, you know, we, we’ve, we’ve bought into these lies that our boss is super human and they never make mistakes and that we’re going to end that they’re gonna have all the right answers at all times. And so for us to be able to say, hey, what if what if you just realize that that was a human being that you can walk with and that you can actually help lead them along the way? You know, finally, you know, even the idea of like, seeing volunteers as like more than a means to an end. You know, again, because of the big personalities that we have, oftentimes we have these big visions and, and so we need people to accomplish these visions. Yeah, we end up you know, using them as like as like cogs in the machine, right versus like individuals with something to contribute. And so and so what happens is that will come in a lot of times, and we’ll do anything from basic skill development. So hey, how do you lead a rehearsal? How do you lead a volunteer training? How do you you know, I mean, so there’s some really basic stuff that are just skill. Yeah. And then we’ll come in also, and we’ll do leadership development, which is, you know, more of what I just listed out. So many people that we meet, it’s like you have the natural ability, you have the the talent or the drive, you just missing some of these basics that if we can walk with you that that would be huge. I would say those are the two biggest, I think on the on the back end of it. Coaching has become simply a trusted voice for so many. So there’s some that that they have the basics. They have the skill and the talent and the drive, but they feel alone. And they’re doing it everyone that they talked to is you know, that their boss or their volunteer, or, you know, is some way connected to the ministry that they’re leading. Right and any any sense of voice ability, we’ll make that person nervous. And so we we put up this facade of perfection or of strength, and instead of allowing someone to speak into who we are, and so, you know, we’re not counselors, but we end up being that for so many just, Hey, can I just have you on speed dial so that when I walk out of a meeting, and I feel like I want to punch a wall, I can talk to somebody about it. And I don’t actually do that. Never happened comes. Yeah, I can I can imagine.

Justin Price
Can we pause real quick? I think David misunderstood the question. We were asking about issues that Mike’s staff has.

David Miller
Yeah, got it. Got it. Got it. Okay. Got it. I’ll narrow my focus a little bit. Yeah.But okay. Yeah. So that’s, that’s been helpful and and i think that’s kind of what coaching has become for so many is skill development, leadership development, and then that trusted outside voice.

Justin Price
Yeah, it sounds it sounds like that coaching may or may not have given you a lot of great content for a book is this is this where a lot of improv leaders ship came from was just this experience.

David Miller
Yeah, a lot of it. I mean, I’ll if, you know the truth is a lot of this experiences as probably will foster many books, you know along along the way, coming from different different vantage points, improv leadership. A lot of the stories come out of this experience, but the concept itself really starts with it was when I took over as the vice president of coaching. I really looked at our organization and our coaches and said, what makes us unique? Like why would someone want us to coach their team instead of, you know, named the organization or the individual, you know, those different things, you know, what, why would someone choose us? And, and I start to kind of, you know, realize, like, we need to figure out a little bit of what our secret sauce is and what our process is. And so improv leadership became before was, it wasn’t supposed to be a book. improv leadership was supposed to be our internal training process for the coaches that are on our team. Yeah. Here’s how you Draw the best out of the people that you’re that you’re leading that you’re coaching. Here’s how you do that. Yeah. And, and so it started that way, almost five years ago. You know, we launched it in our organization and trained all of our leaders in these five core competencies and get and you know, constantly are coming back to this. Then like, as things evolve, then it became, you know, I would be talking to an executive pastor, and, you know, he or she would say, Well, I, you know, I’m supposed to coach my team, I’ve got, you know, 10 or five or 20 people on my staff, how do I use improve leadership? And so we started to train leaders, and so we would have these trainings that we would do all over the country. And, you know, today we’ve probably brought in the live trainings like 1000, you know, 1500 people through kind of a live training, and it was someone heard it in the training, and said, I need to introduce you to someone at Zondervan. I need to introduce you to a book agent Let’s see if this could become a book. And we were like, it’s not it’s not a book. It’s like, Why do you keep saying it’s a book? And so we want to talk to them and they’re like, no, like, like, put your stories to it. Right? Teach us how to do it. But But tell the stories of how you’ve seen it done well, and how you’ve messed it up. And, you know, how, how it’s necessary in this climate. Sure. And, and so then it became a book

Mike Mage
Totally in process. Well, I, I love even just the idea of improv leadership, like the, the the name itself implies, like flexibility. And, you know, obviously talking to church creatives, like they really, at least, you know, from my experience, musicians understand to a certain extent, some of them understand not all. I did go to the School of Music, at a university, they don’t understand this. Most most other musicians do that. Like there is this flexibility. There’s this idea that like, every time you play a song, even if it’s, you know, your basic four chord worship song, something is going to be different about it. And I love just even how the title almost sort of, like implies that a little bit like, right, this, this is gonna be something that it flexes and moves and yeah, you know, you kind of have to live within this to adapt and you know, be creative, which is there still rules, there are rules

David Miller
To music, right? There are rules to what sounds good and what doesn’t. Right. And, and you’re allowed to break the rules at a certain point you’re allowed to play within the rules, right. And I think that’s, you know, right now, man, like, most leadership stuff out there, and there’s some great leadership stuff out there. Yeah, most of it is linear, most leadership stuff that I that I read totally, or that I’ve, you know, been to the trainings or, you know, have the certification or you know, whatever. It’s, it’s this, it’s this first do this, then do this, then do this, and it’s this little In your process that takes you forward into something. And that’s just not what leadership actually is like in real life. Sure. In real life, you have to be nimble like that musician. And so we talked about in the book this idea that that you know, in most of the you know, your worship, you know, bands, you have like someone, you give them the tabs, you give them the chords, someone can if they practice enough, they’ll be able to play that song pretty well. Yeah, but the moment that the time signature changes a little bit, or the moment that the person in front says, you know, alright, let’s go ahead and, you know, vamp here for a minute or redo one of these courses, like all of a sudden you see them like seize up, yeah, and not able to kind of move forward. And so for us, it’s, it’s only the best musicians actually have the ability to improv Sure, like the average musician can’t do it. They understand the concept, but only the really good who have mastered their, their their instrument, who have enough trust with the other people that they’re in the bandwidth to be able to improv in. moment to contribute in a moment, depending no matter what kind of what what comes, you know, right then and there. Yeah, we start looking at leaders and saying, Can leaders do that? Like, we’re pretty good as leaders, when we know what the rules are, we’re pretty good when we know when our job is, you know, the amount of time that someone says to me, Well, that wasn’t in my job description, right? Give me the right job description. And I’m like, it is in your job description. Other you know, right. Right. Other needs as required? Is Yeah, yeah. is everywhere, right. It’s everywhere. And so So the reality is like, like, there isn’t a job description that will accurately compile everything that you’re supposed to know, do. You have to be able to adapt? Think about, like, what’s happening in culture nap? Yeah. Right. Like the church and I mean, people but like, let’s into the church, the church has to be able to adapt right now. And it’s and it’s fascinating to watch the churches and leaders that are adapting, yeah, that are able to have conversations about racial reconciliation that are able to talk about you know, politics or the Coronavirus or Why we’re meeting or why we’re not meeting and everyone is freaking out about different things and and we’ve become this consumer thing right where everyone wants you to, hey pastor tell the church what I want you to tell the church you know, I want us to meet I want us to not make I want us to talk more about Black Lives Matter. I want to talk less about Black Lives Matter I want us to write and and as leaders, we’re having to respond to all of those things. Yeah. And, and I’m watching as some leaders are doing an incredible job of responding. Yeah. And I’m watching as the majority of leaders are flubbing this and and trying they have great intentions. Yeah. But they’re so afraid of because they’re because they want it’s it’s it’s the rules. It’s, well, what is the rule that I’m supposed to follow here? Well, those have been thrown out. And more than ever, yeah, they no longer apply most of them and now more than ever, we have to be able to improv or leadership, right. And so again, the concept that it was written long before any of What’s happening? What’s happening? But but we’re in this this space where it’s can leaders respond to a global global pandemic? Can leaders walk into a room not knowing what their role is supposed to be and contribute in a moment? Can leaders sit behind their camera on their, you know, on zoom and manage the mute button? Well, can we figure out what the next step is supposed to be? And the best leaders, the ones who can lean on their wiring, their, their training, their education, their experience, are going to be able to come out of this. You know, I think really well and if not stronger than ever, right. And that’s, that’s the hope. That’s the hope of, from the very beginning of the book.

Justin Price
Yeah. Yeah, I just, I feel like you’ve got us hooked. Can you give us maybe like two of the five principles from the book, two that you think are most interesting to just share? It doesn’t To be a shortened up thing, just like a couple sentences about some of the first two principles, which doesn’t sound like it’s linear, what they could be writing the order, right?

David Miller
Yeah, yeah. And they are, they’re the whole, the whole thing I’ll tell you about the two that we’ll talk about here in a minute. All five of them can build on each other. All five of these concepts can come out, you know, we can weave in and out of, I think of it almost the lens of like a toolbox, you know, like, like, you know, it’s whatever you’re going to do you as the person who’s working on that project, you know, when to use a hammer when use a screwdriver, you know, right. You know, when you’re supposed to do that. I want to make sure that I arm you with the best hammer and best screwdriver I can find. Yeah. And so this really is a toolbox, all five of these tools. And then within each each, you know, we say actually, the five are competencies and there are tools within each competency. And I want to make sure that you have everything that you would need for whatever the situation is. You’ll be able to Walk forward in Yeah, I would say that the two that as I think about your audience as I think about going forward night again, I think all of them would would fit but the first one I’ll look at is precision praising so kind of our tagline for precision praising is carefully crafting praise to inspire and chorus corrector team. And so here’s here’s a reality that I think people have to understand is that people are motivated by praise. Yeah, uh, it is very rarely have I have I come down on someone and really critique someone and then walked away and actually come back better. Yeah, more often than not, it is it is praise that has helped someone to move forward. It’s not that you can’t correct but it’s, it’s it I think we’ve leaned so heavy into correction and into kind of cracking the whip that we’ve forgotten what it looks like to actually praise someone. And so it’s a it’s a skill that has to be re looked at. So in, in our training we we talked about, like we almost will reverse it. engineer, a time that someone has praised you and it changed the trajectory of your story. Yeah. And and when you can reverse engineer those different things we talked about, what was the setting of that? Were you alone? Were you with a bunch of other people were it was it was it public? You know, who was that person in your life? Like, who are they in your story that they were able to speak that to you. And understanding these basic kind of concepts and principles of praise will start to motivate your team in a brand new way. Because it gives you that like endorphin rush, right? Like, there’s something about, you know, if you walk in, and someone says to you, Hey, that was great, then that’s like, Oh, that’s awesome. Like I can I can kind of ride that for a little while when your supervisor or someone who has leadership or influence in your life says what you just did, really affected the quality of the service that we just had, or or really change the trajectory of who we are as a church. You can write that praise for a month. Yeah, right. And so when you start to understand that The importance and the beauty and art of praise, then you can really start to motivate your team and move them toward common goals. Yeah.

Mike Mage
Well, that’s to me it is. I feel like one of the things that I I teach all my the worship people here is, you know, like, it’s it’s incredible how much is incredible how far a thank you goes. And so like, like, I’ll literally from the from the day that I got here, after every worship service, I make it a point to go say thank you to everybody. And I’ve told this story before, but like, yeah, the very first time I did that, I went up to a bass player here who’s been here for you know, however many years way before I even got here, and to the church, and I said, Thank you. And he was it looked like I punched him in the gut. You know, like it looked like I really just had walked up and I just punched him and was like, What did you say? And I just said, Thank you. And with like, straight on, he just said like, no one’s ever thanked me for playing bass here before and like Which is insane, then say and so like, like I love it and I love how you’re drilling down on like even making that more. I mean like it can be as simple as a thank you but like what you’re talking about like can actually start to change people’s trajectories and like slowly and push them in like really healthy and encouraging directions.

David Miller
Well we talked about in all of our organizations like the values of our organization, right and so we you know, we list them somewhere on some document and the really good churches will actually have people you know, they’ll have people like memorize heat right those and what they are and then we stop there My thing is when you see someone living out your values, why don’t you tell them how good they did? When you see someone you know, right like, like there’s a difference there’s a difference in saying good job and telling someone what they did. That was so good, right? There’s a difference in moving for with someone like like my wife a lot. I’ll say, Hey, that was that was really good shake, but What did you like about it? There people want that 100% and We crave it the most. You know, I remember I, co author and I and Stan Endicott. We, we did a talk for, like 150 Executive pastors. And almost the whole talk was about precision praising. And I had one of the, you know, one of the kind of big name, you know, big name church guy came up and said, Man, I’m really glad you shared all that with these guys. Almost like implying they need it. And I don’t I don’t need it yet. He said, and he said something to the effect of this was a little too touchy feely for me. And what I love and here’s, here’s the fun, here’s the fun of me and Stan working together. Is that, you know, Stan is in his 70s he’s kind of like an elder statesman, you know, you walk in the room, you just like that guy’s awesome. Yeah. You know, like, I’m a punk with like, you know, half sleeve tattoo, you know what I mean? Like, you know, and walking in and you’re like, what, Who’s that guy? Yeah. And, and, and I remember this guy walking away. I was kind of sharing with Stan for a minute. I was like, Oh, that’s, you know, a little disappointing. Like, you know, I thought I thought he’d really get it. And Stan said this thing that like really affected me, he said, he said if, if more leaders understood precision, praising fewer of their staff would quit, and I just, and I just was like, cool that guy. We’re good. Yeah.

Justin Price
David, can I ask you a personal question on it? Yeah, please do like a personal so in our agency. I feel good about the fact that we are leadership stuff every Monday sets a goal to find something to praise publicly for that was done that’s at the heart of the culture, not good work. So he taking it even a step further, we want to reinforce the cultural values. And so rather than just saying like repeating them, every staff meeting we we actually look for a way to actually see somebody who has been living them out. And so we will before we have the full staff meeting, the leaders kind of talked through a so and so this was great, and it’s a huge red flag. If we don’t have any Anything like if we found like three or four weeks and it’s like, I mean everyone’s kicking butt and it’s doing like everyone’s doing really good work, but I don’t really see anything like stand out culture above and beyond type stuff. That’s like a Okay, so what do we need to do to really foster that? How can we how can people any any practical tips on like, how can we be better at precision, like finding the nuances that you know, guess? Doesn’t feel like it’s repetitive and doesn’t feel like it’s getting generic because even for me, I mean, I, we, we built that as part of our culture and it’s still really tough to find new things into inspire any, any like little nuggets there. I’m just kind of poking into this one because it’s Yeah, trying to get some coaching from you. Love it.

David Miller
So I have I have three thoughts really, really fast. Okay, so I think that the first one is, it should worry you as much about your leaders as it does your staff. If your leaders can’t find things to praise. Yeah. Right. So So part of it. Yeah. Is it? You know, the question that you should have in some ways is is, is our is it that our staff isn’t living on our values? Or is it that our leaders have such a high bar before they’re willing to praise someone that they that they’re not able to see it when it’s right in front of them? Yeah. And so and so there, there’s a reprogramming of our own minds to be able to, like, I know, I used to literally believe that if I praised less that when I would pray it would mean more. I used to, I would say that to people why I hold my praise until it’s really deserved, so that people will will know that I mean, it Yeah. Yeah, never.

Justin Price
Yeah, never really say it, right.

David Miller
Yeah. And and I’ve never felt more dumb. Yeah. I mean, like then later on and realizing how how praise really affects people. And so and so your leaders have to have to have the value of wanting to find praise. The people that are on your team Yeah, is I think is I think a piece of it. I will say that not all praise has to be public. So I could see it getting repetitive and or becoming expected. Oh, we’re gonna walk into a meeting someone from the leadership team is going to say something about one of us. And so I could see it losing what what we call in the book, The weight of praise. So the weight of it is not as heavy. If they if they figure you’re only doing it because it’s a checklist item. Yeah. And so I really lean into leaders and saying you can schedule praise, but don’t make sure they don’t know you scheduled it. Yeah, you know, I’m saying like, you know, make it feel so organic, but if you’re not, if it doesn’t naturally happen, you need to schedule it, then you should do that. Yeah. And, and continue lean into it. And so that kind of that third pieces like I would have them, lean into them as individuals. There’s something about walking up to someone’s desk and be able to say this thing that you did, was was really valuable. Because not everyone on your team, highly values praise publicly, right? Some there’s gonna be someone on your team who public praise makes them feel shameful. And that’s their own issue to figure out, but it certainly may actually hurt. Yeah, we will make them feel uncomfortable. But but to be praised, like more one on one might, they might, they might ride that for a little while and feel and feel like they’re on cloud nine because of that. And so there’s something about figuring out who your people actually are like the curiosity, being so curious about your staff that you lean into them and you know, this person loves to be praised publicly. And so I want to make sure that I fill that love bucket that that that they have, yeah, and this person would be mortified if I praise them publicly, and I need to be really intentional about that as well.

Justin Price
It’s so cool. David, that’s that’s so valuable for so many teams I’ve been. I love that. Definitely a lie I believed for a long time was that I only Give authentic praises and so I hardly ever give them. And yeah, and that’s wrong.

David Miller
Totally wrong. Well, it’s, it’s it’s wrong, but even even as you use the word, the praise does need to be authentic. Yeah, right. Right. Um, you know, they people people, barges doesn’t have to be that high

Justin Price
For praise, the bar

David Miller
Doesn’t have to be as high, you know, so, so yeah, I mean, but it does need to be authentic it You do have to believe it. Because they will know if you’re blowing smoke, right? Like they will, they will be aware of that. And it’s something we talked about in the book if you couch praise, or if it’s like, if it’s a praise, criticism, praise becomes something and again, I’ve been through leadership training that literally tells you to do that right. And I’ve been in leadership trainings that say they say this is how you give criticism is make sure you praise them on the front in the back end, man Yeah, like we’re our defenses are up. Yeah, with that kind of stuff. Like like we have learned, oh, you praise me Here comes the hammer, right? You don’t even like and so we have learned that and, and so again, we talked about If the only time your staff ever sees you is because you have a project for them to accomplish, or you need to correct something that they did, that every time you walk by, they will flinch. Yeah. But if the if you create opportunities that when you walk by, they’re like, oh, man, I wonder what he’s got for us today. Right? You know, there’s something exciting about the boss walking by your desk, versus terrifying. And I better act like I’m really working. And I think I think we do that we do that as leaders, we create that environment where we are the heavy instead of instead of the carrot. And I think we got to figure that out.

Justin Price
Sure. I think you’re just you’re striking a lot of PTSD for our listeners right now who have all been in bad work environments. And it’s like, oh, I feel that you can like go right to that moment when you’ve been working for that boss, who is just the heavy and yeah, it’s like every time they’re around, it’s like, what, what next?

David Miller
Yeah, I’ve worked for a boss in a supervisor who had his own parking spot, his own entrance and his own bathroom and so there was No chance to accidentally run into them. There was never a natural interaction, every interaction was planned. And, and, and again, and I get why he did that I get I get the the version of leadership that is put as many barriers in the way so that you don’t have to accidentally interact with anybody because you have a lot of things to accomplish. I can cognitively understand that. But when I put myself in the position of a leader and realizing that the best way to do these things is through them, and to really invest in others. Well, why, you know, why do I have a gatekeeper standing, you know, sitting at their desk, making sure that the only people that get in really deserve it, you don’t I mean, like, there’s, there’s, there’s a disconnect there for the reality, especially with younger leaders. I mean, you know, when you have millennials and Gen Z coming through, I mean, they don’t want you to be just their boss, they need to know that you actually, you know, like give a rip, you know, they need to understand that you care about them more than what they can produce for you. And, and if you’re only talking to them about what they can produce for you, and you Never have an accidental conversation at the urinal. You don’t I mean, or you never walk by them when you’re going to your car, like, you know, and give them like a goofy fist bump or something. I mean, then then all you are is is the heavy, and it’s gonna really mess with their drive to be a part of your community. Yep.

Justin Price
Can we make that the Can we make that the call out for this podcast is that if your only positive praise is the goofy fist bump as the later

Mike Mage
But what’s, uh, what’s the second competency that? You know, you can you can drill down a little bit on

David Miller
Yea, I want to talk about what I think could be maybe one of the more difficult ones. And so this idea of will be called going north. So, you know, going north is using indirect influence to redirect a person’s thinking or perspective. I mean, when you think about this concept, like we’ve I did, we identified five fundamentals of going north and here’s the reality of it like, we’ve all had leaders had to have those really difficult conversations with someone and it feels like you know, as you need to have a tough conversation or you need to somehow move someone forward they’re stuck in some way or you’re stuck in some way. It’s it’s like hitting a brick wall. Yeah. Right. Like you know, they walk into your office and they immediately cross their arms and you know, they’re they’re armed and ready for battle because they know what’s about to happen. Yeah, um, you know, what we’re really challenging leaders to do is is is to use again indirect influence you know, so like the five for example so like reveal common ground with them somehow become like minded right? You know, surprise them with a gift. You know, if you walk in and you if you’ve ever been given like a even just a trinket, you know, I mean, something small, but if you’ve been given a gift, a piece of candy, even here, your your defenses start to lower, you know, disrupt the setting, in some way. Like if every time you’re going to fire someone, you do it in your office. And that’s it. Chair, maybe you don’t make them sit in that chair, right? You don’t I mean, like, like, every time you’re having a card conversation with someone, you know, you you do it at five toward the end of the day to make sure this thing happens like, like, somehow you got to figure out, like, we need to have a hard conversation but I need to somehow as a leader is my job to get around this wall that is going to be naturally built up. So so you disrupt the setting. I one of my one of my favorite of that was actually at the church that that we were at, Mike, you know, I had a team of seven. I actually I think this was when Melissa was on staff. Okay, sister Melissa. Yeah, yeah, your sister. And, and I, like we were just hitting the wall. I mean, you know, it was it was just like a, you know, you remember it was one of those hard charging churches and you know, and and so there’s always something to accomplish and totally, and we were you know, and we put on our own camps, and so this whole thing was happening and, and so I mean it we were burned. And I remember talking to someone from another ministry and saying, Hey, I bought everyone these little airsoft guns like really cheapo ones that wouldn’t actually hurt anybody. But I remember buying them could you set up like a like a little course for us in the office we had our own kind of suite you know we were in as they sequestered us away from the rest of the staff because we were so loud noisy right and so so one edit so we had all the lights turned off put on some random lights and I and I had I had them each go in one at a time and we would time each other to see who can hit the targets with these airsoft guns and you know, people like army rolling, you know, through the office and then crawling through going around a corner. And it just, it just like, took the took the pressure out of the balloon. Yeah. You don’t immediately off a little bit. Yeah, we’re just in that moment. I everyone’s on the edge. Let’s just have fun. Yeah, for a second. And then we went back to work. Mm hmm. And so it was again, this disrupt the setting, you know, idea within within what we’re what we’re talking about last two Teach using a story. So we’re obviously doing that here on a podcast like dragon, I can say do this, or I can tell you a story about how to do this. And it connects to someone in a different way. And then create a shared experience. And you know, so again, as you do that with your team,

It really does start to lower, lower those walls. Yeah. And, and rather than telling someone what to do, you can model it and use this indirect influence idea to really show them through your actions, how it could be a recent story, I was coaching a pastor who was just in a rut, you know, again, I think that that as as human beings, like we are creatures of habit we we search for normally, like we search for the box. Yeah. And you know that because, you know, like, I bet you if we if we were to talk to your listeners for a minute, most of them walk in and have you know, they park near the same spot every day they walk out of the same, the same door of the auditorium or, you know, wherever it is, they sit in the same seat sit in the same seat. I mean, how many people at your church like, that’s my seat, you gotta mean like, you know, and they’re at least gonna, you know, the church I go to I walk in, I take a right every weekend, you know what I mean? Like, well, when I’m able to walk into the church, right, you know, it’s like, walk in and take a right I don’t do it on purpose. That’s just, it’s it became the place I remember sitting on the left side of the auditorium and it felt weird, like, it just didn’t feel like it was like we were in the same place and and so we do that in like, like, people are creatures of habit. As leaders, we we can really succumb to this and so ever again, I remember talking to a leader and he was in a rut, and I and I said this weekend, I want you to walk in a different door. I want you to park on the other side of the parking lot. And then and then you know, when you walk in and you always talk to that same guy in the sound booth. I want you to go talk to somebody else. Yeah, when you walk in the door and and i I remember talking to him after that weekend. He was like, he was like, man, I thought that was the dumbest advice. Like walk in another door. And he’s like, but I had ideas for our church that I hadn’t thought of. Yeah. Because I kept looking at it from the same angle over and over and over again. Yeah. And so there’s something about as leaders from time to time for ourselves. We’ve got it, we’ve got to change it up. Yeah. And for our team, you know, don’t order lunch in the same spot every time. You know, like, like, find opportunities, the best classes when we were all in school, the best classes were on beautiful days when the teacher took us outside to do class,

Justin Price
Sir, no doubt.

David Miller
Why is that? Like, you don’t I mean, like, it’s like it created a memory. It created something that just felt different than the monotony of every other day in every class. And so there’s something special about it. And literally nothing was different. They taught the same material they were going to teach inside classes taught outside the class. Right? Right. We’ve got to get better at this. Yeah, at being intentional in the way we lead people. And, and I and I said at the beginning, like, you know, this is one of the harder ones to master because it’s not science. This is art. Yeah, this is this is not, this is not, you know, on Tuesday, go outside on Wednesday, eat at this other restaurant on Thursday, you know, like, like, there are tricks you can do. I remember taking my staff and saying and saying, hey, on Wednesday, it’s going to be go left Wednesday, because when we would go to lunch on Wednesdays, for some reason, we always turn right. Meaning only got to the restaurants that were on the right. And so it’s like today, we’re going left? Yeah, you know, I don’t know what’s over there. And there’s just something about that, as a leader to remove the rut. Yeah.

Justin Price
Yeah. I think that a lot of leaders need to hear that encouragement because it is a it is extra work. And so I think we’re taught a lot of times that being more efficient is a better way to learn. lead. And that’s how we find ourselves in those ruts. And I think about like, I’m thinking through every leader who’s listening to this, who has just had to change everything, their scheduling, their location, their meetings, everything and they’re like, I’m just happy if my people make it on on the zoom call for the staff meeting, I’m just happy. If we pull off another Sunday and don’t see numbers drop online attendance, and we don’t get shut down in our building, if we’re a church that’s open, you know, these are the kinds of things and it’s like and David’s over here talking about bumping up the staff retreat budget. And totally, though is by by David’s book, it’s gonna give you all the support, you need to bump up that staff retreat budget, and that’s but in all reality, though, is what you’re saying is so valuable and so true, and it’s worth it. What you’re really saying is that it’s worth it if you want to be effective. If you care about the people you’re leading, then then yes, stay up the extra night. Figure it out. You know, we have a remote agency and one of the first things we had to do was figure out how to bring community to people who are all over the country. And I remember the first time my, we had somebody on staff help me, I wanted to deliver pizzas to everybody’s door at the same time. So I changed up the meeting. And so I was like, if everybody could get pizza, delivered at the same time, that’d be really cool. And then we took it a step further, and we said, Hey, we were actually introducing an intern the week before. And so I said, as you introduce yourself and what you do to the intern on our online meeting, we said just tell them your favorite pizza and where it’s from. And so so the person who was in charge of getting those pizzas ordered took notes. during that meeting, we then delivered everybody’s favorite pizza. It was a ton of work, though. Most people in leadership positions would have like if I had submitted that to my boss in many of my jobs before, if I wasn’t the one writing the check, I would have had that push back as like, Are you kidding me? Like you spent 20 hours ordering pizzas for people? And how about the 400 bucks you spent on pizzas for meaning that you normally do for free. But I will tell you that in the last year, that is something that still comes up like that is still and it’s something that we even as a team still try to figure out how to outdo because it was a surprise and delight. Yeah, it was a changeup. It was something they had never experienced before. And so we still it’s still my best idea. So feel free to take that and use it. Okay, we’re still working on it. We’re still chasing Chasing the Sun on that one. But David, I love your heart for where this is. I love this book. And I, I’m super, super stoked that you’re working to get this out there because there’s so many guys who grew up I know I grew up in the church as a young guy with no mentoring, and to have coaching and coach resources even if I can’t afford slingshot group in coaching from you guys in my church will buy that I can buy your book. Yeah, and I can get it. And so thank you for for what you’re doing, man, this is really, really awesome.

David Miller
Yeah. And just I love the story, you know, I mean, it does it. It is extra. And that is a true statement. It is extra. But I, I’m wondering what leaders are filling all their other time with? You know, I mean, I’m saying why, like, why did that, you know, I mean, you know, we’ve all read death by meeting or we’ve all looked at, you know, our felt death by meeting you know, it’s, it’s when you look at what’s actually happening in your organization, you know, aren’t most most meetings most companies most leaders are thinking through the lens of return on investment, right? Yeah. And so if you start if you moved away from the rest of this stuff, and you start understanding return on investment on those pizzas is exponentially greater right then then, no doubt 10 Normal meetings that you would do you know what I mean? Like, you know, whatever. I mean, I mean, when you think about churches like so in student ministry, camp is ridiculous. Like, like taking students to camp is a ridiculous thing to do. Yeah. For the amount of money that it takes. I remember when we were doing our own camps. Yeah. I mean, like, I remember how much of our yearly budget went into doing camp, and then how much we charge different people and all the different stuff and

Mike Mage
Starting to scratch to Oh, yeah.

David Miller
And so it’s and so camp is crazy, until you look at it through the lens of return on investment. When you start looking at the fact that you can do if you take students to a camp that’s worth more than a year’s worth of Wednesday nights. Absolutely. When a student goes to camp. As far as as far as connection as far as discipleship, as far as you know, I mean, memories and experiences that they’ll have for the rest of their life. Doing that is worth a year of Wednesday night you know youth group. So return on so is it extra work of course, but return on an investment is going to say that like doing that is is completely worth I would rather get rid of some of my Wednesday nights yeah then not do camp. Absolutely I would rather for your meetings like like I would rather figure out these. So one of the things I did for slingshot group is is when I took over as the as Vice President for coaching, I bought I made these enamel pins that you know that that went on you know, jean jacket or a backpack or you know, whatever. And I made these pins and we have like 50 to 55 people in Sintra group. But I have 21 coaches, I only gave the pins to coaches. And I said this is for you. This is every time you look at this pen, you remember the impact that you have, you remember what it means to be a part of this team and every time I bring on a new Coach, I give them an enamel pin. Yeah. And and that that became a thing,

Right? Like I want, you know, oh man, I can’t believe I lost my enamel pin. That’s so heartbreaking. Here’s another enamel pin, like I you know, I mean like, right, like, like, this is gonna matter. And that little gesture, like catapulted us forward in this disjointed team because we too are a distributed company, we’re, you know, we have people all over the country. And so to be able to mail that to someone and for them to, to open it and, and to look and you know, I’d get on Facebook and I’d be tagged in a post on Facebook about the enamel pin that they got for joining the slingshot group coaching team. Yeah. And I mean, you know, it was it’s, it was free advertising It was. It was bonding in some way it it made them look at me as a leader as I’m providing free I see you. You are not just a cog in the machine. I know who you are. I want you to have this. I mailed it to you personally with a note from me and didn’t take it your time. of course Yeah, right. Yeah. It was terrible. Yeah. I mean, it’s fun. Right. Like, like, but but the return on investment has been exponential. Yeah. Yeah. And we continue to try and figure out ways, how do we help someone to know that they’re a part of this team and that they matter that they see that they’re seen, and that they’re not just a cog in the machine? Yeah. And I think that’s, that’s the that’s the goal.

Justin Price
Right? That’s awesome. I mean, I want to be a coach just for the enamel pins. I mean,

David Miller
We won’t sell them. I had someone say, Well, why these are so rad. Why don’t we sell these and I was like, we’ll never sell them. They are they are expensive. There’s something about getting something that no one else can get. And the only reason you’re on the team.

Mike Mage
Yeah, yeah. Even if it’s something simple. It’s so cool. Yeah. Well, David, this has been amazing. Like this is awesome. Because like Justin said, I feel like we got a free coaching session. So I’m super, super grateful for you for what you do to the slingshot group, but for your book is well, I just want one quick thing before we head out. Where is where are some places where people can catch up with you and see all the cool things you got going on?

David Miller
Yea you know I really do most of the stuff that I do through slingshot group so slingshot group org is is the site you know, we have that as kind of all of our social media I have the the blessing and curse of having the name David Miller. So good luck finding me on social media as one of the most common names in America. But most of my stuff it’s it’s I’m David Miller is like social for most of my shirt, but stuff that I’m doing. And then check out the podcast. I mean, yeah, we’re on we’re about to launch season four and putting some different stuff out.

Mike Mage
Yeah, and the it’s just the slingshot group podcast

David Miller
Slingshot Group Podcast. Awesome.

Justin Price
Yeah. Really appreciate your work. Appreciate your time

So fun being with you guys. Mike, we could go on for another hour easily on going north and I know you’ve got a lot of time. Thoughts on it? Maybe we’ll even do a follow up podcast, maybe like a little bonus follow podcast because, you know, we just touched the surface on going north with David, try to keep this into some sort of a format of a podcast and and just let him tease you a little bit you should definitely get the book. Yeah. improv leadership. It’s available places that books are sold. And on Amazon Yeah. Which he didn’t, he didn’t say, but we will say that for him and, and dig into these things. But, you know, he threw us a softball pitch with the precision praise. But the going north is is super, super tough to do

Mike Mage
Well, and I think that out of the two of the five that he was really talking about, I mean, like all five of them can really increase your capacity and your ability as a leader. And really like as I was reading through them, in jest, and I sort of just like we probably shouldn’t go into all four cuz that yeah, that’s why you can get the book. And but, but the the precision praising you know like that’s something you can do tomorrow. That’s something that you can do right now. I mean get out your phone and text your bass player or your drummer or you know your your comms director or something and figure out something small that’s organic and authentic, and really just begin to change the trajectory of their life by simply saying, Thank you. I mean, like, That’s incredible.

Justin Price
It’s so good. It’s something we can’t do enough of Mike and you are really, really good at it. And I feel like I get a little better just by being around you, because it’s just kind of wears off a little bit on it. You know, one way that our listeners could actually practice it right now would be to go over to, like, wherever you’re listening to your podcasts from iTunes, and actually leave a little encouragement, a little precision praise on this podcast. It would help us a ton or jump on like Facebook and be like, Hey, have you guys heard this podcast? That’s really great. Mike mage is the best podcast host in the history of podcasts or, you know, whatever it is that you’re feeling authentically. I know mostly that would be that But whatever it is, that would be a really good way to practice you know, I think just to give you something tangible to go and do right now, that would be super super appreciated and helped helpful to us as we continue to to grow this as an opportunity to give you all more free content. Mike, what else what else we got for today? Any any teasers for next week? I’ve got a I got a little teaser for one coming up.

Mike Mage
Oh, let’s hear it. You want to hear it? I I would love to hear it.

Justin Price
So our next podcast is actually kind of a crazy one. This this girl, we promised you guys we would try to be more diverse. And we promised you all that we would try to be more diverse. And race right. This girl is is a really, really ridiculously talented designer. And I know that a lot of us are worship leaders and pastor roles and things like that. And it’s like what is designer have to do with anything? And maybe the graphic side of people are going, Oh, yeah, it’s graphic. She is an interior designer. She is a licensed interior designer. She went to school, she has a Master’s then she went to Italy learned Italian to get her degree in Italian design, which they only teach in Italian. So you have to learn the language to get this degree her master’s there in oh nine. And she’s coming on. She’s actually the design lead for a large church. And she is not on staff. She is a contracted design lead and there is nothing inside of their building that they do that doesn’t pass through her desk. As a contractor. She is hired out to do that and she does lines all their campuses. This is a church that has seven or eight campuses. And at first we were like, well, what would that even? How would that even relate to our audience? You know, a lot of us are doing 10 jobs in our church, you know, like, the last thing we need to worry about is interior design. But the reality is, we do need to worry about interior design. And also people are thinking about closing their doors, and not having church, this is a really good time to maybe fix some of your environmental design things. And it’s not about big budgets. It’s just about knowing the right things to do.

Mike Mage
Justin, that sounds amazing. I can’t wait as a guy who is a worship leader and sort of like a pretty small church. I was terrible at Interior designing and really just like figuring out where things should physically go in a room to make it feel the most inviting to make it feel the most warm. And really everything that people experience when they walk through your doors will have an impact on them. And is just like you said, Like now’s the time. You know, when you’re not having anybody in your room, now’s the time to maybe change some stuff up and freshen some stuff up. So, yeah, look really looking forward to that. Once again, thank you so much for joining us for the healthy church growth podcast where we believe that healthy things grow and growth means life.