The Art of Difficult Conversations


If you lead a team long enough, eventually there are going to be some difficult conversations that are going to happen. No one wants to have difficult conversations, there’s nothing fun about them. But if you care about the team and if you care about your teammates then eventually someone is going to need to be confronted. It could be poor work ethic, breaking organizational values, underperformance, misrepresenting the organization, or it could even be a moral or ethical problem just to name a few. But who is the right person to have that difficult conversation when it needs to happen?

1. Who has built the most Trust?

Whoever has the most trust with the individual being confronted needs to lead out in the conversation. If there is any shot at the team member hearing what is being said and responding well to the challenging conversation there must be a foundation of trust. They must know that you care for them, that you believe in them, and that your intentions are pure (otherwise you wouldn’t be having the conversation). Trust gives you the latitude to have a difficult conversation and expect a great response.

2. Who are they going to hear from?

If you care about keeping the team member think about who is going to be the most clear with them in the conversation. I’ve seen countless times when a supervisor confronts or coaches a team member and the two walk away with very different versions of the situation due to the inability of, or discomfort that the supervisor had with clearly delivering challenging news. Clarity is king in confrontation. Make sure whoever is going to say it, says it clearly.

3. Who are they going to respond to?

The goal of confronting a team member is not to have them leave the team. That’s not confrontation or coaching, that’s called firing someone. The goal of confronting a team member is to have them respond in a positive manner to a negative behavior or situation. The goal is behavioral change right? So whom are they going to respond the best to? Let that person have the difficult conversation.

Last Thought: While ideally the team member’s supervisor would be the person who fits these three criteria, that’s not always the case (for a myriad of reasons). So sometimes having someone else in the room leading much of the conversation other than the supervisor isn’t such a bad idea.

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Posted in Leadership, Staffing


How to Identify Young Leaders in the Church


Do a quick Google Search and you’ll find volumes written about this next generation entering the workforce. Much of it is written from a negative perspective. The search will tell you that this generation is entitled, lazy, they don’t follow through and they can’t be trusted with real responsibility. This trend has great implications for the modern day church. And while the researchers might be right, I still believe that there are great up and coming leaders in the next generation taking their place in the church today. Two reasons stand out and have convinced me.

#1 God has a mission for His Church. I’m convinced God is going to resource that mission and give his bride the Church everything she needs to see it through, which includes giving the church spiritual leaders.

#2 We need to do the hard work of looking for them. If God is going to do the work of resourcing His Church with the next generation of leaders, then it falls to us identify, develop and train them to take their place.

So, to that end here are 7 things to look for when identifying young leaders in the church:

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Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Staffing


A Large Multisite Church in Phoenix is Hiring a Preteen Pastor


I’m pleased to announce a new Staff Search. Sun Valley Community Church, the church I have the honor of serving at, is beginning a national search for a Preteen Pastor to lead the ministry to 5th & 6th grade students on our Gilbert Campus. Sun Valley began as a church plant in 1990 in Chandler, Arizona. Over the years Sun Valley has grown into a large mult-site church in the Phoenix metro area. Currently there are three campuses located in Gilbert, Tempe and Casa Grande with a total weekend attendance of over 5,000 people. Sun Valley was recently named by Outreach Magazine as one of the top 10 fastest growing churches in America. The Gilbert Campus is the original and largest campus with well over 3,500 in weekly average attendance. Sun Valley was recently featured in a new book by Leadership Network about church mergers: Better Together: Making Church Mergers Work. To learn more about that story click here Part-1 and Part-2.

Interested in learning more? Continue reading below:

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Posted in Staffing


Leading Through Change: What Game is Your Church Playing?


On a regular basis at Sun Valley Community Church (the church I have the honor of serving at) we get the staff together from all three campuses for leadership development and training. This past week one of our Lead Pastors, Chad Moore, shared about the different games that churches play. I thought I’d share with you some of the key take-aways and learnings. Do you know what game your church is playing? Follow this link to learn more about the “4 Stages of a Church Staff Team.”


“When the organization changes, there are changes within the organization.”

1. Never forget, growth changes everything

  • A small church, mid-sized church, and large church are completely different animals.
  • There is a big difference between an organizational shift and a cultural shift…and often times it’s hard to see the difference.
  • Leaders who are leading through significant growth and change are typically accused of being unloving, unkind, or uncaring.

2. 4 Games that Churches Play

Game #1: The Track Star The track star performs alone. They may train with others and their score may affect an overall team win, but they operate by themselves. This is the solo pastor.

Game #2: Golfing Buddies The primary value is the relational feel of the team. The score doesn’t matter. High performers and low performers can still play the same game together and have fun.

Game #3: The Basketball Team Basketball is a team sport not a friendship sport. It requires working together, trusting one another and sharing the ball.

Game #4: The Football Team Football can be a dangerous game if you think you’re still playing track, golf, or basketball. In the game of football there are highly specialized roles and teamwork is essential.

3. The Two Biggest Challenges of Game Change

  • Relational overload: You know that the game has changed when you find yourself spending a lot of time managing relationships.
  • Increased miscommunication: Exponential growth increases complexity.

4. How do You when know You’re Stuck and the Game needs to Change?

  • You’re focused on the past instead of the future (fear instead of faith)
  • You’re continually hanging around the 19th hole with the same people (same staff / same volunteers)
  • You tend to value the experience more than the results (protection instead of progress)
  • You tend to value your personal role more than the mission (instead of asking what’s best for the church I ask what’s best for me)

Photo Credit: Mariano Kamp via Compfight cc

Posted in Leadership


5 Articles that will Help Your Church Make Vision Real


Thank you for making July a great month here at Helping Churches Make Vision Real! It’s great staying connected with you through social media and hearing about how helpful different articles have been. 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 10 Things You Lose When Your Church Grows

It’s impossible for your church to grow and everything to stay the same. I know it would be nice if everything could stay the same as the church grows, but it can’t. And the secret underlying truth is as your church grows you will lose some things along the way. But that’s kind of the point. You simply can’t move from here (current reality) to there (preferred future) and everything stay the way it is. If it did, you’d never get “there,” you’d just stay where you are. Understanding that, here are 10 things you lose when your church grows.

#2 9 Big Decisions that will Change Your Church

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?

#3 6 Things Your Church Should Know About Core Values

Left to themselves organizations…including churches, drift. It can happen to the best of us if we’re not careful. As organizations and churches grow they naturally become more complex. There are more assets to allocate, more people to manage, decisions seem to have greater consequences than did when you were smaller and more nimble, and those decisions seem to just keep coming faster and faster. It is easy to become consumed with the business of running the church. But just because you’re busy doesn’t mean you’re taking ground.

#4 10 Findings from New Research on Church Communications

Recently, The Unstuck Group released its latest research report: Say What?! Key Research on Church Communications. We paused to ask 186 churches about the ways in which they communicate. Here are the 10 most interesting findings from that research:

#5 4 Reasons Short-Term Mission Trips Still Work

In recent years many churches have been backing away from sending teams of volunteers on short-term international mission trips. Some argue that such initiatives are ineffective, a waste of resources, and even hurtful to the advancement of the Gospel.

Photo Credit: justin fain via Compfight cc

Posted in Leadership
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