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2 Fatal Church Leadership Mistakes

mistake

When it comes to leading a church, there a lot of things that can go wrong that are outside of a pastor’s control. However, the other side of that coin is also true. There are a lot of wrong things that pastors do that are well within their control.

This isn’t an exhaustive list by any stretch of the imagination. There are all kinds of things I’ve seen church leaders do to sabotage themselves. But the following two mistakes are so common and so easy to solve that I couldn’t help identifying them.

Choosing Availability over Competency

Churches are notorious for choosing the available person over taking the time to search for or develop a competent person. Just because someone shows up doesn’t mean they’ll show out. I’ve seen churches choose staff too many times based on convenience. They’ll elevate a volunteer to a staff role because they’re a faithful volunteer and great at doing ministry or delivering tasks on time. I hope you don’t mishear me, I am all for developing internal talent, in fact about 75% of the staff who work at Sun Valley (the church I have the privilege of serving at) have been developed and hired internally. Unfortunately, just because someone can deliver tasks on time doesn’t mean they can build a team and lead others to do the tasks of ministry. It’s one thing to lead by doing, it’s a completely other thing to be able to delegate tasks to others or empower them to make decisions. Churches are also guilty of over promoting young talent too quickly because they see “something special” in them instead of developing that young talent. Promoting and developing aren’t the same thing. While it’s certainly more convenient to choose someone who’s already around and available it doesn’t always prove to be the right move.

Being a Discourager instead of an Encourager

When a good team member does something wrong, nine times out of ten they already know it. Every once in a while, (that 1 time in 10) you may need to point it out. You may need to check in with them to make sure you’re both seeing the same thing the same way, but good team members don’t need over coaching. They don’t need someone to be harsh with them or pick and point out every little thing they did wrong. They need encouragement. They need someone to believe in them and help lift their attitude, because when you lift someone’s attitude you lift their performance. You can’t play a good game with a bad attitude. Here’s the thing, even a mediocre performing team member doesn’t get any better when you rub their nose in a mistake they made. Taking an over critical or harsh approach discourages people, lowers their performance, and it demotivates. Do that long enough and all you’ll have left on your team are low performers. As a leader your words carry incredible power and weight. Use them to build people up and move them in the right direction.

If you’re a church leader and you struggle with either of these two pitfalls the first step you need to take is be honest with yourself, then be honest with your team and apologize to them. Own it. Then change your approach. It’s within your power to change. You can do this!


Posted in Leadership

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Why Holiness isn’t what most Churches think it is

bible

At Sun Valley, the church I have the honor of serving at, once a month we gather our team together from all of our campuses. We spend time worshiping together, we share wins with each other, we communicate some stuff that we everyone needs to know, we share a meal together and we do some leadership training with everyone. From time to time I share some of those thought here with you when they may be helpful. This month Chad Moore, who serves as the Lead Pastor at Sun Valley kicked off the new year with our team with a talk that may challenge you to think differently about holiness and following Jesus.

Big Question: How do you know when you’re growing in holiness?

  • What does Jesus mean when He says, “By holy as I am holy?”
  • Technically the word holy means “set apart,” but what does that practically and daily mean for us?
  • For most of us growing up in church, holiness was more about what we don’t do…it was behavior oriented. If that’s accurate then holiness is all about following the rules.
  • But Jesus says holiness = loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength; and loving your neighbor as yourself…functionally speaking holiness is relational in nature.

Big Answer: You know you’re growing in holiness when you’re growing in relationship with God and people.

  • Everything that God wants to do in our lives this year is relational.
  • If you can’t be holy you have nothing else left but to be weird by trying to follow a bunch of rules.
  • Jesus said that the world will know us by our love for one another = by the quality of our relationships.
  • Ask most people in church about holy living and they’ll go to a list of what they have done and haven’t done this past week.
  • So many churches leave the relational component out of following Jesus when relationships are the beginning and end of what holiness actually is.
  • The reason the Church is irritating to so many people around the world isn’t because we don’t have the truth or good theology but because we don’t have love. This is why the bible describes love in terms and phrases like, “if I have everything right and together and don’t have love I’m still irritating to everyone around me,”…even if I’m right.
  • Holiness is relational.
  • You cannot be following Jesus in a real way and be a jerk.
  • Relational health is spiritual health.
  • The reason heaven is heaven is because relationships are perfect there.
  • Holiness is relational…that is the Christian life.
  • The quality of your life is determined by the quality of your relationships.

Posted in Leadership

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5 Keys to Growing your Church in 2019

growth

I’ve never met a church leader that didn’t want things at their church to to change for the better. They want more people to say yes to following Jesus, they want people to become better friends with God, and they want their churches to think more about people outside of the church than those already in it.

The trouble is while most church leaders want this year to be better than the last, they don’t want to do anything different.

I’ve said this many times before, people (including you…and me) always want to change their circumstances, but they never want to change their lives. But everything gets better when we get better. Families get better when fathers and mothers get better. Students get better when educators get better. Organizations get better when leaders get better. And churches get better when church leaders get better. But better doesn’t happen by trying harder, it happens by trying different. It happens through change…but change is painful. Don’t let anyone tell you any different. It’s always easier and more comfortable to stay where you are than to change and move forward. But if you want to grow at some point you’ve got to stop doing what’s easy and start doing what’s right.

So, to that end, here are a couple ideas that will help you create change this year at your church…and maybe even in you.

Create Accessibility

One of the greatest changes you can make in your church to get different results is to make Jesus and His teachings more accessible to people who don’t know Him. Another way to think about this is to ask yourself or your team, “How accessible is everything at your church to people who are unfamiliar with Jesus and the Church?” How accessible is your website, signage, language, parking lot, building, kids and student ministries, worship services, and teaching to people who are unfamiliar with Jesus and His Church? Most churches simply make it too hard for people to meet and follow Jesus. They don’t do it on purpose, they’ve just forgotten what it is like to be unfamiliar with Jesus. And guess what will happen when you create more accessibility to Jesus? More people will meet Jesus…and isn’t that kinda the point?

Lean into Constraints

You probably have a list of reasons (or excuses) why you can’t grow. Barriers to the future or anchors to the past that are keeping you from getting to the future. Make a list of your top 5 constraints and figure a way through them or around them. You constraints may even be the thing that help you innovate and come up with a solution you would have never otherwise come up with on your own. To that point, one of the top 3 reasons the church I serve at went multisite 6 years ago is because the original location was nearing a point where it would be fully maximized. Today we’re reaching more people for Jesus than ever because we had a facility constraint that forced us into a new solution (multisite) that is helping us reach new people for Jesus than we ever would have or could have at that one original location. Your biggest constraints may just turn out to be your best friend.

Allow Hope to Die

Stop hoping things are going to change at your church. Hope doesn’t change or produce new results at your church. Action does. Specifically, new action. Hope is not a strategy. Too many church boards and church leaders are sitting around praying and hoping that Jesus would do something new and powerful in their church this year when He already did something new and powerful 2,000 years ago on the cross. He’s simply waiting for those same church boards and church leaders to have the same kind of courage He did and lead things forward. 

Draft some new Players

If you want new results at your church, then it may be time to shake up the team a bit. New team members bring new experiences, expertise, ideas, and questions with them that aren’t currently on your team. You become who you hire and sometimes one or two new team members can help shift the entire locker room on a team.

Listen to Fresh Eyes

Sometimes you simply need fresh eyes, someone from the outside to help you see things differently. Sometimes you need an outside voice to say some things that you want to say but can’t. And sometimes you’re just stuck and need help. If that’s your church, then maybe the best step you can take to change things at your church is to engage the Unstuck Group. We help churches grow their impact through church consulting and coaching experiences designed to focus vision, strategy and action.

Taking new and different action will get you different results. And if you need a little help getting unstuck then connect with us at the Unstuck Group, we can help this next year be the best year of ministry you’ve ever experienced!


Posted in Leadership

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Top Posts of 2018 #1 “Why People Don’t Invite their Friends to Your Church”

invitation

Welp, here it is…you made this the most read and most shared post on my blog in 2018. Thank you for going along on this countdown, and thank you for engaging with me through the content here at Helping Churches Make Vision Real! If you missed out on the countdown, no worries, I’ll post them all in one succinct list for you in a week or so.

There are a lot of reasons people go and check out a church for the first time. Maybe someone they know gets married and they go to celebrate their wedding or someone they know passes away and they go for the funeral. It may be that they already go to church on a regular basis and they move to a new area and are looking for a new church, or they decide to leave their old church for any number of reasons and are trying to find a new one. It may be that they saw some clever marketing from your church and decided to try it out or there is some crisis going on in their life and they think they might find some answers at church. Like I said, there are a lot of reasons people check out a church for the first time.

For all of those possibilities, the number one reason people attend a church for the first time is still because a friend personally invites them.

If your church is serious about growing and reaching new people you’ve got to figure out what is keeping people from inviting their friends. While many church leaders blame their people for not inviting their friends because they’re not “spiritually mature enough” or don’t have a “deep burden” for the lost I’d suggest it may be less complicated than that. It may be your fault.

#1 Quality Matters…a lot

I know churches don’t like to talk about this but it’s an unavoidable truth if you really want to reach and introduce new people to Jesus. I’ve been in too many churches whose facilities have not been maintained, they’re fresh out of 1978 and it’s not on par with other public space in their community. I’ve seen too many churches with someone leading worship on stage that just can’t sing. I’ve also been to too many churches who claim to be friendly but if you’re not an insider no one ever talks to you. I don’t think any of those churches intended to push away guests, but they did. Where did we get this idea that intent supersedes experience? I think we’ve misread the Scriptures that teach us that while man looks on the outside that God looks on the heart. The fact that God looks at the heart should challenge us and the fact that man looks on the outside should also challenge us! I don’t think that scripture in particular is a judgement statement in so much as it is a simple observation and fact. I could go on, but I think you get my point.

Question: Is what we are offering our guests quality? Are people not inviting their friends because they’re embarrassed to? How could we do less but do it with greater quality?

#2 New People bring New People

In John chapter 4 an entire village of people meets Jesus. Not because a missionary or pastor went to them or someone went through an evangelism training course but because of a simple invitation. A woman who had known Jesus for all of a couple of minutes invited everyone she knew to meet Him too. She was “new to Jesus.” New to Jesus people don’t need to be sequestered from their friends who don’t know Jesus and placed into some training program and then “sent” back out. They need to be encouraged to simply invite their friend to Jesus. Most people in our churches who have been around Jesus the longest invite the fewest people to Him (seems a little wrong if you ask me…but what do I know). This usually happens because over time they hang out with less and less people who are unfamiliar with Jesus. They wake up one day and all of their friends are Christians.

Question: Do we have new people at our church, and are we investing more in new people or in people who have been around for a while?

#3 Guest Comfort Level

Now I’m getting really shallow. I know. But like it or not if guests aren’t comfortable they aren’t going to be a lot of them at your church. There are a lot of things that can make a guest feel uncomfortable at your church. I’ve been to churches that don’t ever mention guests in their services. I’ve been to some churches that had really poor signage and I had no idea how to navigate the facility. I’ve been to churches that ask guests to remain seated during the service so regular attenders can come say hello (yea, there is no way I’m doing that). I’ve been to churches that tell people if they want to get into a small group to go see Cindi and I’ve thought to myself, “Who’s Cindi and where am I supposed to meet her if I want to get into a Small Group?” Churches are notorious for making outsiders feel like, well…outsiders. And then they wonder why guests don’t come back.

Question: What insider behaviors and language do we use that makes it difficult for outsiders to gain access to Jesus?

#4 Fun

Now I’ve probably finally gone off the deep end with this one. But if your church isn’t fun, if people don’t laugh, they simply aren’t going to invite their friends. No one invites their friends to stuff that isn’t fun. If kids don’t have a good experience at your church, you might be doing it wrong. If people don’t laugh at some point you might be doing it wrong. Jesus was actually really funny by the way. Jim Rayburn the founder of Young Life said, ”It’s a sin to bore a kid.” If that’s true then a lot of our churches might be in risk of sinning. Hmmmm… (yes I said people may not invite their friends to your church because it’s boring)

Question: Do people have fun when they come to our church? What can we do to help church be a fun experience?

If you’re a courageous church leader it may be worth your time to get your Sr. Leadership Team together to discuss where in your community people invite their friends to go with them to. Seriously, make a real list on a white board or something. Then make another list of all the reasons people invite their friends to go there with them. Then finally compare that to your church…you may be onto something at that point.


Posted in Leadership

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Top Posts of 2018 #2 “5 Core Issues that will Fuel Growth in your Church”

lighter

Every church leader I meet with wants to know what they need to do to grow their churches. The majority of these leaders are well intentioned and really have a sincere desire to see people who don’t know Jesus, meet Him. I wrote this particular article at the beginning of 2018 hoping to give church leaders some insights, based on the 100’s of churches we work with at the Unstuck Group, that could help them fuel growth in their churches this year. I hope it was helpful.

Stuckness is no respecter of the “brand” or “flavor” of a church. All kinds of churches across America are stuck. Large churches, small churches, old churches, new churches, Baptist churches, Methodist churches, Nazarene churches, Presbyterian church and even non-denominational churches are stuck.

At the Unstuck Group we’ve literally worked with hundreds of churches and one of the many things we’ve learned along the way is that there are 5 Core Issues that keep churches stuck.

The good news is that in 2018 your church doesn’t have to stay stuck.

This year your church can take a different approach. I’m not talking about trying harder, I’m talking about trying different. I’m also not talking about making some risk free small tweaks. If you want different results you’ve got to adopt a different strategy and employ different tactics.

What are you and your team willing to differently this year when it comes to your approach to these 5 Core Issues?

Discipleship Pathway

I’ve seen a lot of churches that offer a myriad of classes, small groups, and a grocery list of ministries that clutter people’s lives and compete for time, promotion, money and participation. But it’s rare to find a church that has a clear strategic pathway for people who are new to following Jesus to move towards knowing and following him. Is your church providing a menu of ministry offerings or clear next steps for people who connect with your church to become more fully devoted followers of Jesus?

Leadership Development

While many church leaders search for an off the shelf tool or some new content that is promised to produce leaders in their church they forget that the Church itself is the greatest leadership development engine that’s ever been designed. How deep is the leadership bench at your church? Most churches are struggling to identify their up and coming young leaders. Is your church attracting, identifying, and intentionally developing young leaders? Most are hopeful that it will somehow happen, but hope isn’t a strategy. Check out these 10 Articles that will Help your Church Develop Young Leaders. Developing people is different than offering a class. What are you going to do to invest in people differently this year?

Mission / Vision

Clarity is king. Without clarity churches are left to fumble around in a fog and hope for the best. However, the clearer become the better decisions can be made and the faster alignment can be accomplished. When everyone on the team has clarity, and knows where you’re going and who is supposed to do what next things can really get moving. Unfortunately, the majority of churches aren’t very clear about their mission (why they exist) or vision (where they are going), and so they stay stuck. Here’s a post that will help you and your team gain more clarity on your mission and vision.

Communications

It’s not uncommon in churches to find ministries competing for “air time” in the weekend worship services. Many church staff members mistakenly think that if “their” ministry offering isn’t announced on the weekend then it’s not important and it can’t be successful. As a result, churches end up relying on the weekend bulletin and announcements in their services as the extent of their communication strategy. They communicate everything to everyone, hoping to get someone involved. If it’s not announced from the stage then they spam people to death with constant emails that are just ignored or deleted. Interested in learning more about church communications? Check out these 10 Findings from New Research on Church Communications.

Volunteers

A simple but deep truth that seems to have been forgotten is that volunteering is discipleship. Volunteering is not just about roles that need to be filled anymore but people that need to be developed. The role of the Church Staff Member isn’t to do the ministry but to equip the church to do the ministry. While most church staff would generally agree to that statement, few are actually doing it. Want to learn more about developing an effective Volunteer Strategy at your Church? Check out these 10 Articles that will Help your Church Build a Stronger Volunteer Culture.

If you behave differently towards these 5 Core Issues this year, you’ll get different results. And if you need help getting unstuck then connect with us at the Unstuck Group, we can help this next year be the best year of ministry you’ve ever experienced


Posted in Leadership
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