Clad in blue jeans, loafers, and a casual shirt, Tony Morgan stood before a predominantly young crowd of church leaders, both men and women.  It was clearly a high-tech crowd with laptops and phones at the ready.  Thumbs were flying as participants took notes, and the host pastor kept up a steady stream of tweets throughout the morning.

As Morgan stood to speak, he opened a simple black notebook - the kind you write in with a pen, not the kind you type on.  No powerpoint.  No projector.  No clicker.  No bells, whistles, or gadgets.  Not even handouts. 

"I encourage you to take notes," he says, as he prepares to speak.  Morgan's style and pointers reflected the "simplicity" themes expressed in the titles of his other books, Simply Strategic Stuff, Simply Strategic Volunteers, and Simply Strategic Growth.  Killing Cockroaches draws its title from a personal experience Tony shared.  As a high-level manager, Tony was once called away from his desk by a hysterical co-worker who demanded that he kill a cockroach for (yes, a woman, I am sad to say) her.   While that particular instance in his life has not been repeated, "killing cockroaches" has become a metaphor for what some would call the "tyranny of the urgent"  -- those things that keep jumping out of the bushes at us, demanding our immediate response, and eating up time and energy that would be more productively used in pursuing the vision to which God has called us.

Killing Cockroaches offers pointers to churches on how to maintain focus on that which is truly important.  You can learn more about Tony Morgan at  You can find his personal notes for the Killing Cockroaches 2010 Tour posted, at least temporarily, at the same link

Below is my quick summary from the notes I took that morning, with a few quotes and summaries from the presentation that Tony doesn't include in his printed notes.

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  • Settling for something that is not God's plan.
  • Allowing the ministry to outgrow you.
    • "We can be doing the work of God without doing the work God called us to do."
    • "We can talk about leadership, but until we are actually leading, we are not really learning."
  • Focusing too much on the execution of the strategy rather than the outcomes.
  • Failing to give volunteers the opportunity to serve and lead.
    • "The church provides lots of places to do things and few places for people to lead."
    • "God designed the church to run on volunteers."
  • Embracing fear and pride rather than humility.

SESSION TWOTHREE QUESTIONS for keeping ministry focused

  • 1) Are people hearing the message and experiencing life change?
    • "Churches need to be more intentional.  It's not about traditional or seeker, it's about 'are people hearing the message and experiencing life change?'."
    • "It's not about method or delivery but about results:  change."
  • Are the next steps [for developing followers of Christ] clearly defined?
    • "A person comes in at Point A.  You want to get them to Point B.  It's not about offering more.  If you don't know what Point B looks like, then a lot of stuff done in between is done without intentionality."
    • "Churches think we need more options.  A new person needs clear steps [to Point B] not a gazillion options."
    • Too Many Choices:  A Study Tony Shared regarding choices -  In a supermarket study, 6 types of jam were displayed for sampling and purchase in one instance and 24 types of jam in another.  30% of the people who stopped to sample the 6-type display actually purchased jam.  Only 3% of the people who stopped at the 24-type display purchased jam though more people stopped.
    • "Fewer programs mean less competition for all resources:  people & money."
  • Are the next steps clearly communicated?
    • Churches fall into the practice of "spamming" our people with too much information.
    • "If all key ministry messages are shared at the same time, it becomes confusing."
    • Communication ExerciseCollect every piece of communication for two weeks - brochures, bulletins, e-mails, everything.  Tack them up on the walls of your staff room and evaluate the messages and appearance.
    • Clear Communication Example:  Notice the appearance of a Target store.  Target has one logo in every department.  It is highly visible.  The terminology is clear. The "Men's Department" is called the "Men's Department."  It's not called "Revolution" or "Encounter."  It's called the Men's Department, and it's clear to people what it is.

"At the end of the day, ministry is about relationship and people."

Notes compiled by conference attendee Dian R. Kidd, Associate Director, UBA


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