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5 Articles from June that will Help Your Church Make Vision Real

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Thank you for making June an incredible month here at Helping Churches Make Vision Real! It’s great staying connected with you through social media and hearing that these articles have been helpful. So, thank you for connecting with me through the content on this blog! You made these the top 5 Posts from this last month. If you missed out on any of them, here they are all in one place for your convenience!

#1 “7 Habits of Highly Ineffective Church Leaders”

It’s much easier to identify poor leadership in others than it is in yourself. We have a tendency to judge our leadership based on our intentions and the leadership of other based on the results.

An old Russian Proverb says it this way, “The eye cannot see the eye.”

Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to observe all kinds of different Church Leaders who are leading in different sizes and “flavors,” churches. No matter the size or the flavor of the church I’ve seen the following 7 habits come up over and over again. So in no particular order, here are 7 common bad habits I’ve seen in Church Leaders over the years:

#2 “10 Signs Your Church is Headed for Decline”

When I was young my Aunt purchased a brand new car. I didn’t have a car yet so even though it wasn’t red and it had 4 doors instead of 2 I thought it was really cool. And because she had a car and I didn’t she by default was cool too.

Everything was cool until she forgot to change the oil. Truth be told, she never changed the oil. From the day she drove the car off the lot to the day it died (which was much, much sooner than it should have), that car never experienced a single oil change. Routine maintenance wasn’t her strong suite. And most of us are just like her. We put off going to the doctor for our annual check-up, we postpone going to the dentist for our 6-month check up, and yes we put off routine maintenance on our automobiles.

We just keep going until it hurts enough that we are forced to stop and go in for a check up.

Unfortunately most church leadership teams operate the same way. They put off routine check ups and maintenance until it’s too late and decline starts to set in. What if there were early warning signs (flashing lights on the dashboard) that helped indicate that trouble was ahead? In my experience Coaching Church Leaders and Consulting with Churches across the country I’ve seen the following 10 indicators of an impending decline over and over again.

#3 “5 Common Hiring Mistakes that Churches Make”

Recruiting and hiring a new team member can be exciting! Hire the right person and the whole team benefits. When you invite the right person to join your team not only is there an infusion of new talent, but also new ideas, fresh eyes, and a new well of experiences to go to. One new hire can literally improve the performance of the entire team. On the other hand, hire the wrong person and the ministry at your church could be set back for years.

Churches are notorious for making well-intentioned bad hires. At most churches the hiring process usually goes wrong for one of the following 5 reasons.

#4 “Discovering the Leadership Culture at Your Church”

While many churches may have a list of Core Values that they’ve built, very few churches that I’ve come across have taken the time to do the hard work of defining and clearly articulating their Staff Values or Leadership Culture that they’re trying to build at their church.

Culture is tough to define. It’s the elusive, soft stuff in the organization that’s more on the art side than the science side of leadership. It takes hard work to articulate it. But it’s a must for any church that wants to actually be intentional about building a particular staff leadership culture. A clearly defined culture allows you to make decisions, hires, and take any number of other steps at a faster pace. After all as Peter Drucker famously said…

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
Peter Drucker –

Interested in discovering the Staff Leadership Culture at your Church? Start here. Gather your Sr. Leadership Team together and spend some time wrestling with the following two questions and build some lists together.

#5 “Work Hard Give Your Best & Put Family First”

How do I balance family and ministry? It’s a conversation I’ve had over and over again as a church staff member. I’ve heard church staff express deep frustration and anxiety over this question. They want to give their best to their ministry calling and yet sometimes feel like they’re sacrificing their family to follow Jesus. But then again doesn’t following Jesus mean you take care of and lead your family well? When you’re on staff at a church it means working weekends and often times being gone multiple nights of the week at meetings when church members are available. Further, many church staff members feel like they’re on call 24/7 to meet the needs of church attenders. You can see how ministry staff members can quickly feel tension over the whole balancing work and family, especially young church staff members who are just starting out and trying to figure it out.

At Sun Valley Community Church (the church I have the privilege of serving at) we’ve defined our leadership culture with 7 clear distinctives. If you’re interested in learning more about them you can follow this link. One of them states:

Photo Credit: justin fain via Compfight cc


Posted in Family, Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Staffing

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10 Ways Your Church Can Leverage Periscope

Ever since my wife and I went to the U2 show in Phoenix a couple of weeks ago and saw Periscope used on screen during the concert I’ve been experimenting a little bit with this new social media tool. Surprisingly I’ve found that there are some great applications for the local church.

1. Put your Staff Culture on Display

Do a quick scope of a Staff Meeting, Strategy Session, Teaching Team meeting, or walk around the church office and interview various team members about why they love working at the church.

2. Celebrate Volunteerism

Everybody knows that what you celebrate gets repeated. So why not do a quick scope each week of the “Volunteer of the Week?” Show them live in action and do a quick interview about the ministry they volunteer with and what they love about volunteering at your church.

3. Offer a Sneak Peak into a Small Group

Sometimes joining a Small Group can be a big step, even intimidating. Do a quick scope of a group live in action in someone’s home. Take the intimidation factor away by allowing people to see what’s it’s like before they go.

4. Communicate with Leaders

You can do a private scope and include the leaders you want to in the conversation. This is way better than a group text (I hate group texting)! Bonus: it stays up & available for 24 hours for those who missed it!

5. Humanize your Church Staff

Interview your Church Staff about them and their story. Not about leadership, not about the church, but their story.

6. Preview the Weekend Worship Services

Show a bit of the weekend rehearsal so people know what to expect, what they’re inviting their friends to, and why they don’t want to miss out.

7. Devotion

The church I serve at does a daily written devotion on our church app. But a church could just as easily do a scope of a daily devotional thought that’s available for 24 hours for everyone to check out.

8. Introduce People to the Church Facility

Give people a quick tour of the campus so guests know what to expect before they come. Where should they park, where should they check in their kids, how do they navigate the facility for the first time?

9. Promotion

You can use a quick scope to promote what’s going on at the church that week. It’s a quick, easy, culturally relevant way for people to opt in to communication and not get spam in their email inbox.

10. Have Fun!

Show the crazy antics that happen backstage with the band during the service, or the office pranks that happen in the workplace, or just the fun stuff you do as a staff team together. If you don’t have fun together as a team…well…this can be an excuse to start having some fun together! People want to be a part of something that’s fun!

There are probably more applications for churches to use Periscope than this, but this is what came to mind. What else would you add to the list? Leave a comment!


Posted in Creative Arts, Leadership

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Discovering the Leadership Culture at Your Church

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While many churches may have a list of Core Values that they’ve built, very few churches that I’ve come across have taken the time to do the hard work of defining and clearly articulating their Staff Values or Leadership Culture that they’re trying to build at their church.

Culture is tough to define. It’s the elusive, soft stuff in the organization that’s more on the art side than the science side of leadership. It takes hard work to articulate it. But it’s a must for any church that wants to actually be intentional about building a particular staff leadership culture. A clearly defined culture allows you to make decisions, hires, and take any number of other steps at a faster pace. After all as Peter Drucker famously said…

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
Peter Drucker –

Interested in discovering the Staff Leadership Culture at your Church? Start here. Gather your Sr. Leadership Team together and spend some time wrestling with the following two questions and build some lists together.

We Love when our Staff: fill in the blank

What are the stories of the hero’s on your Staff? What are the behaviors that you wish everyone on your Staff portrayed? What are the moments that make you the most proud of your team?

We Cringe when our Staff: fill in the blank

What the the stories that you hope never get repeated? What attitudes have you seen your staff adopt, behaviors have you seen your staff engage in, or things you’ve heard them say that simply makes you cringe?

Photo Credit: Luigi Mengato via Compfight cc


Posted in Leadership, Staffing

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10 Signs your Church is Headed for Decline

sign

When I was young my Aunt purchased a brand new car. I didn’t have a car yet so even though it wasn’t red and it had 4 doors instead of 2 I thought it was really cool. And because she had a car and I didn’t she by default was cool too.

Everything was cool until she forgot to change the oil. Truth be told, she never changed the oil. From the day she drove the car off the lot to the day it died (which was much, much sooner than it should have), that car never experienced a single oil change. Routine maintenance wasn’t her strong suite. And most of us are just like her. We put off going to the doctor for our annual check-up, we postpone going to the dentist for our 6-month check up, and yes we put off routine maintenance on our automobiles.

We just keep going until it hurts enough that we are forced to stop and go in for a check up.

Unfortunately most church leadership teams operate the same way. They put off routine check ups and maintenance until it’s too late and decline starts to set in. What if there were early warning signs (flashing lights on the dashboard) that helped indicate that trouble was ahead? In my experience Coaching Church Leaders and Consulting with Churches across the country I’ve seen the following 10 indicators of an impending decline over and over again.

1. High Staff Turnover

When a church has trouble keeping staff, the church is in trouble. Some attrition is natural over time as the church grows, the staffing structures adjust, leaders hit lids, or vision shifts. But when turnover shifts from being a season to being the norm there is a cultural problem at play.

2. Fuzzy Vision

Without a doubt the single most life-threatening indicator that a church is in trouble is a lack of clarity. Clarity provides a church with the power to make decisions efficiently and align the organizational components of the church to move forward. If you don’t know where you’re going, and can’t state it clearly, you’ve got no chance to get there.

3. Complexity

When the church is growing it’s exciting! Staff members are hired, ministries are started, buildings are built and people are meeting Jesus! But it’s not as exciting when all of that growth and fun naturally lead to complexity. Growth naturally leads to complexity and complexity slows everything down.

4. Inward Focus

I’ve said this many times before, the most dangerous place a church can be in their life cycle is when the ministry they are doing is having a big impact with insiders (people who already know Jesus and are inside the church) but a low impact with outsiders (people who don’t know Jesus yet). It’s dangerous because it’s comfortable. It feels like things are going well and you have momentum because people are happy, they’re regularly attending, and they seem to be “all in” with what you’re doing. But if you aren’t reaching new people, your church or ministry is already moving towards unhealthiness and decline.

5. Defending the Past

When a church is busy defending the past instead of building the future it is headed for decline. When a church becomes risk averse and starts making choices based on who they are going to keep as opposed to who they are going to reach, the church is in trouble. The real danger in playing defense is that it becomes a cultural mindset that actually stands in opposition to the Gospel. You see the Gospel was never meant to be or does it need to be defended it’s intended to be unleashed.

6. No Strategic Plan

Strategy answers the question, “How are we going to get there?” It’s planning for tomorrow today. Little is more demoralizing to a church staff team than a bunch of empty inspirational talk that never materializes into real courageous action.

7. Leadership Void

There are a lot of challenges facing the modern church, but perhaps the greatest challenge is a leadership challenge. The modern church is simply an anti-leadership organization. It doesn’t attract, develop, or keep leaders. Leaders by their very nature are change agents. Because the unstated goal of most churches is to preserve the past, church leaders often times find themselves fighting the family instead of fighting the enemy.

8. No Spiritual Maturity Pathway

I’ve observed that some churches are stuck or declining not because they have a difficult time attracting or introducing new people to Jesus but because they have no plan in place to move people towards spiritual maturity or the plan they’re working is broken.

9. Policy Trumps People

Policies shrink the box of creativity. They set the standard for how we do what we do every time we do it. Policies tell everybody in the organization what they can’t do, and leaders are solution oriented not excuse or problem oriented. A church with a lot of policies will consistently find it difficult to attract and keep good leaders. It’s very possible to policy your way right into decline.

10. Volunteer Scarcity

One of the things we’ve learned through our research at the Unstuck Group is that the average church in America is mobilizing somewhere around 43% of their adult and student population in volunteer opportunities. The reason it is so critical for churches to address this and take steps to move their culture in the right direction is because volunteering is discipleship. It’s not about filling roles and getting ministry done through people. It’s not about what we want from people, but rather what we want for people. It is discipleship. Because volunteering and living an others first life is the very essence of what it means to live like Jesus.

It would probably be worth some time discussing this list with the Sr. Leadership Team at your church and evaluate where your church measures up in each of these 10 areas of health.

What can we do about it? Engage the Unstuck Group in a Ministry Health Assessment. Discover islands of strength to build on and areas of opportunity to work on before they become serious and decline sets in.

By the way…leave a comment; I’d love to hear about what you’d add to the list!


Posted in Leadership

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Does Your Church Have Ministry Silos?

Ministry silos are one of the most common dysfunctions in churches across our country, and they hinder ministry health and growth.

If you’ve ever been in a church with ministry silos you know it. People and ministries share the same roof but do nearly everything in isolation. Outside of Sundays, they rarely combine their efforts. Like members of a dysfunctional family, most church staff members know their team isn’t healthy, but they’ve learned to cope and get by, living separate lives within the same house.

My friend Tony Morgan at the Unstuck Group has just released a new eBook on this topic — 7 Warnings Signs Your Church Has Ministry Silos: Triggers and Symptoms of a Divided House. It’s available today on Amazon or from the TonyMorganLive.com store. The launch of this book has been so successful that it hit the Top 5 Christian Leadership Book List on Amazon!

It’s not hard to tell when a church has silos. The difficult part is discovering and eliminating their true causes. This eBook explores the triggers and symptoms of a “divided house” so you can identify the steps your church needs to take towards greater unity. Download it today!


Posted in Leadership, Staffing
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