Earlier this year I had the opportunity to sit down with a group of Executive Pastors who are serving in churches of 5,000+ and during the conversation I heard them talk about some of the best decisions they’ve made over the recent history of their churches that have made the greatest impact. I thought I’d share some of those thoughts here with you and give you the opportunity to learn from some incredible leaders that are in the trenches! Could it be that one of these decisions is the one that will make all the difference this year at your church?
1. Define our Staff Culture
Many churches have cultural values but haven’t taken the time to define what they’re looking for in a leadership or staff culture. While you can spend a lot of time and energy on this, a simple place to start is to simply make a list of your top 10 employees (regardless of role or seniority) and why they’re your top-10. That’s the culture you’re looking for. This is a great exercise to do as a Senior Leadership Team.
2. Bust up Ministry Silos
Many churches are more like a collection of different ministries operating under one roof competing for building space, staffing, volunteers, and budget resources than they are a singularly focused team aligned to take on a God-sized vision. Trying to cut through the ministry silos at your church? This blog series from my friend and teammate at the Unstuck Group, Tony Morgan, will help.
3. Participate in the “Best Christian Workplace” Survey
The Best Christian Workplaces Institute started with a question: “What makes an exceptional place to work?” Mentioned by Bill Hybles at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit, this survey will help you diagnose and improve the organizational health of your church.
4. Hire someone to Focus on Stewardship
Hire someone to put full-time attention on finances. Not a CFO but rather someone to develop revenue. Put them in charge of developing and implementing a holistic generosity strategy at your church. Chances are they’ll pay for themselves in the first 6 months – or less.
5. Move to a Teaching Team Model
Instead of relying on just one communicator develop a teaching team. This doesn’t mean using the weekend service to develop a young communicator or experiment on your people. There are plenty of other venues in the church to do that. When done well this allows your church to hear multiple voices, personalities, and approaches to the scriptures. When working together properly they strengthen the weekly message and one guy doesn’t have to shoulder the grind of hitting a home run every week!
6. Lean into the Lead Pastor
The Lead Pastor sets the culture, plain and simple. So as a Sr. Leadership Team take the time to figure out what makes the Lead Pastor tick. What’s most important to them, what’s least important to them? What’s their approach and style? Lean into that and build on it organizationally.
7. Expand the Sr. Leadership Team
Centralizing everything through one person slows things down. While someone has to lead the Sr. Leadership Team, a team needs to be built because you can’t know everything or make every decision – or you become the lid. But then again staffing models are only as good as the people that are on the team, the personalities that are at the top, and the culture of the church. Healthy churches hold onto their organizational structure loosely – because they’re growing and they know it’s going to require flexibility.
8. Develop a Residency Program
Great churches develop leaders. Intentionally charting out a clear path to develop future leaders including a volunteer leadership pipeline, an internship program, or residency. One church built a 2 year residency for degreed pastors in training to get the practical experience they need to lead a church. Not only do they send out equipped pastors but they get the opportunity to hire people who understand their culture because they’ve been in it for 2 years!
9. Hire a Consulting Firm
Having the fresh perspective of outside professionals who know what it means to lead in the trenches of the local church and bring years of experience of working with forward moving churches to the table is one of the best decisions a Sr. Leadership Team can make. I’m not biased or anything but I know a great Consulting Group that I’d recommend. Check out the Unstuck Group!
What’s the best decision you’ve made at your church this last year that’s made the greatest impact? What decision do you need to make this year that will make the greatest impact in the future? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment!
Photo Credit: Rusty Clark via Compfight cc