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Top 10 Posts from 2014

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Thank you for making this past year a great year here at Helping Churches Make Vision Real! I recently finished counting down my Top 10 most popular blog posts from 2014 and if you missed any of them, here they are all in one nice tidy little place for you! Happy reading! And I hope these posts help you make vision real!

#1 “6 Things I bet you don’t know about your Pastors’ Wife”

One of the least thought about people in the church today is a 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. I recently sat down with Lisa, my wife, and asked her about her experience being married to a full-time pastor for the past 18+ years. Here is some of what she had to say…

#2 “When to Add Another Worship Service at your Church”

Many churches are stuck in attendance simply because they haven’t maximized their current facilities and campus. Thinking about adding another worship service at your church? Here are five strategic concepts to consider before you do.

#3 “How Much Should Your Church Pay Your Pastor?”

The 2014 Large Church Salary Report conducted by Leadership Network in partnership with the Vanderbloemen Executive Search Firm has just been released to the public. The largest survey of its kind ever conducted, 727 churches of over 1,000 people in attendance from 42 states and Canada participated to provide more information and more specific information than ever before available. Follow this link to get your hands on a copy of the survey results! Here are a couple of facts that caught my eye along with the top 10 findings info-graphic below.

#4 “The 4 Stages of a Church-Staff Team”

If you’ve ever been a part of a growing church you know that growth changes everything. Especially the relational, organizational and working dynamics of the staff team. Larry Osborne, Lead Pastor at North Coast Church writes the following in his book Sticky Teams:

“Never forget growth changes everything. A storefront church, a midsized church, a large church, and a mega-church aren’t simply bigger versions of the same thing. They are completely different animals. They have little in common, especially relationally, organizationally, and structurally.”

Fortunately I’ve had the opportunity to sit down with Larry and hear him expound on this idea and talk about what he describes as, “The Four Stages of a Team.”

#5 “Ministry Trends for 2014″

Recently Carey Nieuwof, who serves as the Lead Pastor at Connexus Church north of Toronto, Canada, released this info-graphic about trends he’s seeing in ministry as we head into 2014. With his permission, I’m happy to share this here with you. Carey speaks to leaders and audiences across North American and around the world on leadership, change, parenting and personal renewal. You can follow this link to keep up with Carey at his blog!

#6 “4 Indispensable Truths about the Art of Planning”

All of us have been in planning meetings before with a team that seemed to have had a break through moment. You know, that moment when everyone says, “Yes! That’s exactly the direction we need to move, and that’s exactly how we need to get there from here!” There was energy, excitement and unity as everyone left the meeting. But the more time that passed after the meeting dismissed the more that energy that was there faded and the less movement towards actualizing the plan took place. In fact a large majority of planning meetings don’t actually provoke much real change in most churches and organizations. Here are 4 reasons why many of your plans aren’t really getting you anywhere:

#7 “4 Reasons Why Churches become Insider Focused”

It’s rare that I ever come across a church that started off as an insider focused church. Most churches start with a desire to reach new people with the Gospel. In those early stages of a church plant they have to reach new people or they die due to a lack of viability. So how does a church that’s eager to help people outside of the faith follow Jesus drift towards becoming insider focused and spending all of it’s energy taking care of people who are already convinced? Here are the four most common reasons why churches become insider focused:

#8 “How 2nd Chair Leaders Lead Up”

In working with leaders around the country one of the most frequently asked questions that I hear is, “How do I lead up?” In other words, second chair leaders are asking, “How do I support my leader while influencing them at the same time?” Below are six methods that the best second chair leaders I’ve met utilize to “lead up.”

#9 “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:

#10 “What if Home Depot Functioned like a Church?”

For the last month we’ve been getting ready for Christmas at my house and that means multiple trips to Home Depot. The first trip to pick up the Christmas tree and then back again to get more lights because the ones from last year don’t work this year. Then yet another trip for a new Christmas tree stand because the stand from last year doesn’t work. Oh, and I need a new pack of staples for the staple gun to put up the Christmas lights. And so on. You get the idea.

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.

Photo Credit: Leo Reynolds via Compfight cc


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Staffing, Uncategorized

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6 Symptoms your Church has Ministry Silos

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Ministry Silos are one of the most common symptoms I find in churches that are stuck. Most churches don’t want to admit that they have silos. But admit it or not, the majority of churches have silos. It’s actually a natural easy drift that most churches make towards ministry silos. I wrote about this in a post: “What if Home Depot Functioned like a Church?”

Ministry Silos = multiple independent ministries operating under one roof

But how do you know if you have ministry silos at your church? You probably have ministry silos at your church if…

1. Each Ministry has their own Vision & Values Statements

If each ministry is chasing it’s own vision and developing it’s own organizational values; then you’ve got ministry silos.

2. You Frequently hear the word “My Ministry” in Meetings

If you hear the words, “my ministry, my budget, my volunteers, my rooms,” etc.; then you’ve got ministry silos.

3. There is no Coordinated Calendaring Process

If every ministry has their own independent calendar and there are consistent conflicts when it comes to using facility space, announcements, and other church resources; then you’ve got ministry silos.

4. No one is Sharing Best Practices

If each ministry is building their guest experience, discipleship process, missions experiences, and volunteer process (among other things) uniquely and independently from one another; you’ve got ministry silos.

5. There is no Coordinated Budgeting Process

If each ministry is coming up with their own budget independently of each other instead of working together and sacrificing for what is best for the vision of the church; then you’ve got ministry silos.

6. Each Ministry has their own Brand

If each ministry has it’s own cool name, logo, t-shirts, websites, and promotional material that look like their from different organizations instead of from the same church; then you’ve got ministry silos.

What else would you add to the list?

Your team can use this list at your next team meeting to begin evaluating where your church is at when it comes to ministry silos. Then use this post: “Tearing Down Ministry Silos” to help you begin taking your next steps.

Want help addressing the dysfunction of ministry silos at your church? At the Unstuck Group we’ve helped some of the fastest growing and most innovative churches in the country get unstuck. We can help you too.

Photo Credit: dawn_perry via Compfight cc


Posted in Leadership

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Why are 50% of Church Staff Teams Unhealthy?

“1 in 2 church staff members do not believe that their team is healthy and effective.”

The health of a church begins with the health of its team. You simply cannot build an effective church without building a strong staff. We want to help you do just that!

That’s why we partnered with Vanderbloemen Search Group to ask church leaders how they staff and structure their teams. The responses were nothing short of surprising. In fact, we were shocked to learn that 1 in 2 church staff members do not believe the team they work with is healthy and effective. Specifically, that’s 47% of churches that are likely struggling to reach their communities because they are struggling to build a great team.

What would the staff members of your church say about the health of your own team? What steps are you taking to help them become more effective?

In our research, we found that the most effective church staffs operate very differently than most. Their leaders develop Next Level Teams by utilizing the following and more:

  • 3 Critical Aspects of an Effective Senior Leadership Team
  • 3 Key Components of Leadership Development
  • 2 Things Every Staff Member Needs Clarified

What would happen if you learned and applied these insights with your own team? We’d love to equip you to strengthen your staff.

We’ll be releasing these insights in our Next Level Teams webinar on January 21 at 1:00 pm EST. Tony Morgan will be hosting a conversation with William Vanderbloemen and members of The Unstuck Group about the most crucial steps church leaders can take with their staff to increase effectiveness. In just 45 minutes, we’ll provide key insights, followed by a live Q&A.

Are you ready to start building your own Next Level Team? Click here to register and join us for this exciting conversation. Participation is limited so register soon!


Posted in Leadership, Staffing

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5 Core Behaviors of Churches that get Unstuck

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Churches all 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. Stuckness is no respecter of the “brand” or “flavor” of the church. It happens to all kinds of churches. Lead long enough in a church and it will happen to you.  In fact Thom Rainer, President and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources has stated in his research that:

“Eight out of ten of the approximately 400,000 churches in the United States are declining or have plateaued.”

Churches get stuck for all kinds of reasons but there are a handful of core behaviors that I see over and over again in churches get unstuck.

1. They’re Outsider Focused

They’re consumed with the idea that the need for the Gospel in their community is greater than their capacity to meet it. And so they’re willing to go to extraordinary measures to bring people far from Jesus close to Him. So much so that their posture is towards those outside of the faith rather than those inside of the faith. They consistently make choices based on who they’re going to reach rather than who they’re going to keep.

2. They have a Strong Organizational Culture

They are clear about their vision, they know where they’re going. But it’s not just that they have some aspirational idea about where they think God wants them to be one day they actually have a clear plan to get where they’re going and they methodically work the plan. They’ve done the hard work of defining their leadership culture, and values, and aligning every ministry of the church to move in one singular direction.

3. They Develop People

They don’t pay everyone in the church to do ministry, instead they typically have a pretty lean staff (a ratio of 1:100+) and pay those staff to invest in and develop volunteers. They identify young leaders and give them real responsibility to make real decisions and own the ministry. Actually be the church instead of just come to church.

4. They view Spiritual Maturity Differently than most

They don’t view spiritual maturity as something that happens in a classroom. It’s not about content but rather your behavior. In other words it’s not so much what you know, it’s what you do with what you know. Ironically enough, that’s the same way Jesus defined it. They’ve also mapped out a clear pathway for people to run on. The moment they say yes to following Jesus there is a series of clear next steps for them to take to move forward with Jesus.

5. They’re Courageously Humble

The posture of their leadership is a humble confidence. They’re life long learners and incessant tinkerers. Willing to learn from anyone from any industry and any size organization. They’re not afraid to ask for help, even outsiders. They lead in their area of brilliance and submit in areas of weakness. They’re willing to confront the brutal facts and listen to the truth, even when it’s not pretty.

Does your church need help getting unstuck in 2015?  The Unstuck Group can help, follow this link to learn how.

Photo Credit: Lachlan Hardy via Compfight cc


Posted in Leadership

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A Large Multisite Church in Phoenix is Hiring a GroupLife Pastor

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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 GroupLife Pastor to serve 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 area. Currently there are three campuses located in Casa Grande, Gilbert, and Tempe with a total weekend attendance of over 5,000 people and in recent years was 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 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… Continue Reading…


Posted in Staffing
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