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How to Break a (Big) Church Growth Barrier

 

One of the most obvious signs of stuckness in churches is declining or plateauing attendance. All churches hit growth barriers—even the large ones. The question is not if growth stalls, but how to respond when it does. The good news? You aren’t alone.

On Thursday March 1 at 1 p.m. EST, we will be hosting a webinar called “Breaking Barriers: Reach 2,000 & Beyond.” Tony Morgan, Amy Anderson (Director of Consulting at The Unstuck Group), Chad Moore (lead pastor of Sun Valley Community Church) and Matthew Cork (lead pastor of Friends Church) are digging into four reasons large churches hit growth barriers, and how pastors can lead their churches forward.

In this webinar, we’ll dive into topics like:

  •      How to Recognize a Toxic Culture & Turn It Around
  •      Overcoming a Leadership Void in Your Staff and Volunteer Teams
  •      Multisite Model Missteps & How They Set You Back
  •      Complexity Creep & Why It’s Undermining Your Vision

We invite you to join us to discuss the unique challenges of leading a large church—and how to get unstuck in the process.

Follow this link to REGISTER NOW and join in on the conversation


Posted in Leadership

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4 Ways Churches Misspend Money

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Churches get funny when it comes to money. Generally, churches have a hard time talking about money publicly and few have a clear generosity strategy. When it comes to financial planning and actually spending money in a way that gets them to the vision God’s called them to, the majority of churches I’ve interacted with are all thumbs.

Here are 4 ways I’ve seen churches misspend money and a couple of ideas to hopefully challenge your thinking.

Budget on Hope

I’ve interacted with too many churches that build their budget based on hope. Instead of budgeting based on the previous year’s actual financial performance, they forecast future financial growth on their gut or their version of “faith.” Churches that budget this way often experience little financial margin, budget freezes, hiring freezes, and even layoffs. If this is your church, I’d challenge you to take a wiser approach to money and keep in mind that Proverbs is in the Bible too.

No Cash Reserves

Some churches live hand to mouth financially. There are a lot of reasons this happens. The real danger in living hand to mouth financially and having little cash reserves on hand is that churches unknowingly put themselves in a position that doesn’t allow them to follow Jesus. By not carrying 6-8 weeks of cash reserves on hand not only are you unnecessarily exposing your church to financial risk in lean moments, but you are also not positioning yourself to say yes to opportunity that Jesus may bring your way.

Too Much Cash Reserves

You may have just read that and thought to yourself, “This guy is crazy, I’m never reading this blog again!” How could a church possibly have too much cash in the bank? When churches choose financial security over taking risks and following Jesus…It may be time to take some of that money out of the bank and fuel somethings that could reach some new people for Jesus.

Build the Budget Based on the Past

I’ve found that many churches keep the same basic financial line items year over year with little change throughout the years. Carrying those line items forward consistently and allocating based on the past instead of aligning money to new vision can be dangerous. Great budgeting starts with vision clarity. Once you have clarity about where you’re going building a calendar that reflects your strategy about how you’re going to get there is next. Once that’s complete, budgeting becomes fairly easy because money is just the fuel that funds the strategy that gets you to your vision.


Posted in Leadership

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New Coaching Networks with the Unstuck Group just Opened Up!

Take Your Next Steps as a Leader

Leadership Coaching Networks with Tony Morgan and The Unstuck Group equip you with toolssystemsbest practices and peer support to help you lead more effectively.

We are now accepting applications for Spring 2018 Coaching Networks

“Leading an Unstuck Church”
AND
“Leading Unstuck Multisite Church”
*Both networks are available in Atlanta and Dallas

 

This 7-month, collaborative coaching experience includes 3 group gatherings2 exclusive webinars, and 2 one-on-one coaching calls. This network is best suited for senior pastors, associate pastors and executive pastors. You will register a team of two and participate together.

Space is limited! We will only accept 7 churches in each group.
follow this link to apply

Note: The application deadline is April 11.
Apply now to take advantage of our early bird rate!


Posted in Leadership

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4 Indicators your Church is Moving in the Wrong Direction

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You may have heard me tell the story of a church that started years ago in the Phoenix east valley. This church plant grew rapidly. Helping new people meet Jesus, they became one of the first mega churches in the east valley. Eventually the pastor, under whose leadership this growth took place, left and the succession didn’t go very well. Neither did the next succession. Or the next. In fact, that church went through 18 straight years of decline until at the end of that decline they ended up merging with another church.

Today the new campus averages more than 1,000 people in weekend attendance and is helping new people meet, know and follow Jesus.

Unfortunately for most churches in decline there’s no great comeback story. Churches decline for all kinds of reasons and it’s usually more complicated than one simple decision that was made somewhere along the way.

There are a lot of reasons why churches begin to decline and eventually die. Most don’t ever recognize it until they’re really stuck or worse it’s too late to even turn around. But there are some lead indicators that can be early warning signs that things are moving in the wrong direction.

1. A Lot of Money in the Bank

The Unstuck Group recommends that churches have six to eight weeks of cash reserves in the bank. We recently found in our Q1 2018 Unstuck Church Report, that benchmarks trends in U.S. Churches, that a majority of churches have the equivalent of 17 weeks in cash reserves. This suggests that many churches are in a financially healthy position. They’re in a position advance the Kingdom through investing in new initiatives but aren’t. They’re sitting on money in the bank that could be invested to reach more people for Jesus. Too much money in the bank can turn a church from an advancement mentality to a protection mentality.

2. Comfort is the Opposite of Growth

If you don’t have a list of new ideas that you can go to and possibly implement at any given time, then you’re probably spending a lot of energy propping up old methods and programs. And those old methods and programs bring a certain comfort with them, because they keep people who are already in the church happy. Every idea has a shelf life. If your church isn’t constantly evaluating and strategically stopping old things and starting new things, then you’re probably moving towards becoming insider focused. And while that’s comfortable it’s a lead indicator that you’re moving in the wrong direction.

3. Over Structure

One of the most common misunderstandings of strategic planning is that the goal is not order or structure. The goal of strategic planning is to actually accomplish the vision. In a growing church you want planning and management to lag slightly behind the chaos of change and movement. It’s possible to manage and plan your way into losing momentum. Policies and structure can shrink the box of creativity. They set the standard for how we do what we do, every time we do it. It’s possible to policy and structure yourself right into decline. When planning and order become higher priorities than chaos and movement your church will start moving in the wrong direction.

4. Protective of the Past

One of the most difficult things to navigate in a church is change. If you lead in a church long enough, eventually you’ll hear someone say something like, “But we’ve always done it that way.” That way was someone’s good idea and it may have been the best way at one point. But often times that past way becomes a barrier to a future and better way. When a church is busy defending the past instead of building the future it is moving in the wrong direction. 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 its intended to be unleashed.

Church decline can be avoided and even turned around. If your church is stuck or in decline I’d encourage you to start a conversation with the Unstuck Group. They have proven track record of helping churches get unstuck.


Posted in Leadership

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10 Articles that will Help your Church Make Vision Real

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So January is behind us…how are all those New Year’s Resolutions holding up after one month? If you’re like most people…not so well. At least January went well here at Helping Churches Make Vision Real! It’s always good 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 posts from this last month. If you missed out on any of them, here they are all in one place for your convenience!

10 Insider Focused Ministry Names

This post came out of a conversation I had with a Leadership Coaching Network that I was facilitating back in 2013. So I wrote this post 4 years ago and it continues to be one of my top posts of all-time. Hope it’s helpful!

How Many People should your Church have on Staff?

Before you buy into the idea that you need another staff person at your church, think again. That just may be the worst decision you make at your church this year.

Why People Don’t Invite their Friends to your Church

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.

5 Core Issues that will Fuel Growth in your Church in 2018

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.

6 Things I bet you Don’t know about your Pastor’s Wife

While leaders get all the attention and accolades their families and private lives are thought of very little by the public. In fact in a moment in church history where we are inundated with volumes of leadership ideas and training very little is written about pastor’s wives.

Are you the Type of Person that can Work in a Fast-Growing Church?

In fact, most people in ministry will go their entire ministry career and not get the opportunity to be a part of a fast-growing church. That’s one reason, by the way, if you’re serving at a fast-growing church you should thank Jesus, soak it in, and enjoy it while you can. You’re sitting in a seat that few will ever get to. While there are a lot of factors that contribute seasons of fast church growth one of the things I’ve observed in all of them is that the staff that work at fast-growing churches are different. Here’s what I mean…

Is your Church Designed to get Stuck?

Your church is perfectly designed to get the results you’re currently getting. You’ve probably heard that said before. That means if your church is stuck it’s probably because it’s been designed to be stuck. Now I know you didn’t do that on purpose, I know you want to reach as many people with the Gospel as you possibly can. But churches get stuck because they’re designed, by intention or neglect, to be stuck.

8 Reasons Why People Don’t Volunteer at your Church 

I’ve never worked with a church that has said they don’t need more volunteers. But I’ve worked with a bunch of churches that have trouble getting people to volunteer and stay engaged volunteering.

What if Home Depot Functioned like a Church?

After spending half of the holiday season in the local Home Depot, I started thinking about how different Home Depot is from the majority of churches I’ve visited over the years, and what it would look like if Home Depot functioned like most churches in America.

The Difference between Preparation and Planning

Do great organizations prepare for the future or do they plan for it? The answer is, “yes.” To be clear preparation and planning are not the same thing, and great organizations become great by doing both.


Posted in Family, Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Staffing
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