I’ve always loved the phrase “Work smarter, not harder.”

To be honest, I think I’ve used it as an excuse for laziness just as much as a battle cry for efficiency. At the core of this statement, however, lies a desire to get the most out of your resources, energy, and time and accomplish tasks.

Sorry to say it, but churches have a tendency to work harder, not smarter. I’ve seen it. I’ve done it.

Every time I see a church Instagram with 4 total pictures posted, I think, “It’s 2016 and you’ve only taken 4 photos? Why would you ignore this super easy tool for reaching people?”

But I’m stepping all over my list, so here are 5 indications that you’re working harder, not smarter.

You Work Harder by Ignoring Time-Saving Tools

According to Statista, Facebook has 1.65B monthly users. That’s more than the 1.37 people that live in China. Facebook is bigger than China! (source) And guess what? It’s only growing. Now that Facebook owns Instagram and they have successfully spliced genes and cloned Snapchat, Zuckerberg is the new king of the flippin digital world!

So if you would like to meet your people where they are at, they are on Facebook and Instagram. Sure, your 20somethings are still holding out on Snapchat and your business exec diehards are still tweeting, but the writing is on the wall.

This fact in addition to how much easier it is to connect with your people on social platforms as well as how 24/7 accessible we all are on it, it’s kind of a no-brainer. Time to put some real emphasis and money into your digital strategy, methinks.

Also, if my friend tells me about your church and how great it is, the first thing I’m going to do is look you up on my iPhone. If you’re site is garbage, I probably will pass on attending. I know it feels like someone remodeled your house without your permission, but there’s your new front door: the website. Instead of lamenting about it, use it to tell your visitors what it’s like to actually be there and maybe they will actually come! However, if being there is a bad experience, you have work to do elsewhere, too.

You Work Harder Due Unrealistic Expectations for Millennials

Here’s a great scene from The Office to illustrate what this feels like. “Real business is done on paper. Write that down.” (class types on laptop).

Paper and pen are just not this generations preferred communication tools. It may be time to ditch the printed agenda (which I know you have because you’ve read this) and go to an emailed or shared document version. Evernote, Dropbox, or Google Docs are all great options.

If you’re rushing to get things printed for your meeting that are going to be thrown away, younger staff will see this as wasteful.  Later, they will will have to recopy the paper into a digital file so they can find it again, which is also a waste of their time.

You Work Harder Because You Don’t Write Anything Down

Of course, when I say written down, I mean typed up and saved to a folder on your hard drive.

Recording your ideas and plans in an organized way can only help you down the road. I believe that a messy desk is the sign of genius too (which is directly dependent on how messy my desk is at the time), but a messy mind is the sign of irresponsibility.

How hard is it to file ideas and plans in an orderly fashion? It’s actually pretty easy. The problem is that we don’t take the time to do it well. You don’t have time NOT to take the time!

Trust me, if you take a little time now, you’ll save a lot of time later trying to find your notes or recreate them from memory, and digital is the best way to do it. Have you seen my post that includes a little gem called Evernote? You should check that one out.

You Work Harder by Ignoring What Other Churches are Doing

Lots of cliché’s in this post, but you’re definitely working harder instead of smarter by reinventing the wheel. When faced with a creativity block or a solution to a problem, how often is “see what other churches are doing” an option?

I’m not saying steal their stuff or directly copy them, but maybe it’s time you got to know the worship leader down the street so you can put your heads together more often while trying to reach the same city. It’s a classic Marvel team-up! it’s what makes The Avengers so great. Iron Man needs Captain America. Hawkeye needs Black Widow. Hulk needs stuff to smash.

Facebook groups can be great learning tools too. Now, yes, some of these groups are pure garbage, full of trolls and narcissists, but some are great! Do a little extra legwork to find a good group with a few pros in it where you can ask questions. Go to a conference with your team or some of those friends you’ve made from other churches and network.

Whatever you do, find out what others are doing in your field and I promise that you will find a way to get unstuck quicker and back to working smarter and not harder.

You Work Harder by Delegating Nothing

I’ve already talked at length on this subject here, so if you missed it, go back and give that whirl after this. I’ll just say this simple and logical sentence here:

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

Wait, that’s not it.

You have to do 100% of the tasks you don’t delegate.

There it is. Nailed it.

There’s nothing noble about putting your hand to the plow when there’s a $10k machine you can ride with an air-conditioned cab in the barn. It’s simply foolish. It is working harder instead of smarter and ministries are notorious for it. That being said, let me sum up the thrust of this post as clearly as I can:

There are no shortcuts for relationships, Bible study, prayer, and solid teaching. You simply have to put in the work. However, for other things, the world just keeps creating more time-saving short cuts. Why not use them?

What did I miss? I’m sure it was something. I’m a guy that still can’t eat without getting something on my shirt, so I know there’s probably other signs of working harder, not smarter. Let me hear it in the comments!

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