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How your Church can Produce more Leaders

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Leadership scarcity is one of the most significant lids that prevent growth in churches today. While many churches are providing great leadership content and training in the form of conferences, classes, or coaching groups few are actually producing more leaders. There is more to developing leaders than providing good leadership content. It doesn’t happen without these 5 key underpinnings. 

1. Humility

It takes a certain amount of humility to develop young leaders. It’s a choice you make to give tasks and responsibility away and allow others to gain experience knowing they won’t do it as fast as you would, as well as you would, or the way you would. 

2. Believe in People

You have to believe in people in order to empower them and develop them through coaching. If you’re like me and you have a tendency to see opportunities to strengthen organizations and people then believing in people is not going to come very natural to you. You can’t approach developing people from a negative or pessimistic viewpoint. You have to choose to look for and see the best in people, encourage them, and help them build upon their strengths.

3. Time

Leaders can’t be microwaved. It takes getting people practice and preparation, encouraging them while they’re on the field and then coaching them up afterwards. In other words it doesn’t magically happen in a moment but in a series of moments up close and over time.

4. Shift your Focus

If your church is going to produce more leaders it means you’re going to have to shift your focus from doing ministry to developing people. Churches that build leaders don’t pay their staff to do ministry (outside of specialty skill roles), but rather to invest in people, build teams, and lead people to do ministry.

5. Scout for Talent

Most churches are anti-leadership organizations. They have a tough time attracting, developing, and keeping leaders because most churches are consumed with preserving the past while leaders are consumed with moving towards the future. That’s why you have to work hard to become a talent scout. Leaders see leadership in others; they can smell it, because they understand it at an intuitive level. It’s their job to constantly be looking for small glimpses of leadership in people and fuel those by celebrating them. Because what you celebrate gets repeated.

I’d like to give a special shout out to the Central Ministry Staff Team at Sun Valley Community Church for the leadership conversation that led to this blog post! I love leading with you guys!


Posted in Leadership

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Why More People Don’t Meet Jesus at your Church

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Did you know that the majority of churches in America are either plateaued or in decline? In fact 80% of churches in America fall into one of these two categories. Regardless of size, denomination, style, or geographic location; the majority of churches in America simply aren’t moving the right direction when it comes to growth.

One of the key drivers behind these statistics is that few churches are actually helping new people meet Jesus. One of the things we’ve learned through our experience and research at the Unstuck Group is that churches in America are only baptizing around 5% of their weekend attendance on average annually. In other words a church of 500 is seeing an average of 25 people take the step to be publicly baptized on an annual basis.

We can do better than that. We must do better than that. But it is going to take facing down these big 5 issues that prevent more people from meeting Jesus at your church.

1. Churches are Insider Focused

Most churches in America make decisions based on who they are trying to keep, instead of who they are trying to reach. They’re insider-focused. Churches are not only generally change resistant but their practices, ministries they offer, language they use, way finding, guest service experience (or lack thereof), and even the way they spend their money demonstrate that they care more about people who are already in the church as opposed to people who have not yet met Jesus.

2. Lack of Invitation

Sadly, many people never say yes to following Jesus because they aren’t given the opportunity to. Even in most churches. While a majority of churches talk about Jesus and the Gospel may even be clearly preached, fewer and fewer churches are intentionally sharing the Gospel and giving people the opportunity to say yes to following Jesus. I know that I may sound old school in this but I said yes to Jesus at a church service where the “preacher” gave people the opportunity to come forward and say yes to following Jesus. Yes, I know that sounds like an old school “alter call” but it worked for me…and guess what, stuff like that still works today. People just don’t know its old school because they haven’t been exposed to it. My hunch is that the more often you share the Gospel and the more opportunities you give for people to respond the more people will respond and say yes to following Jesus. Try it.

3. Church has become Uninspiring

Unfortunately the majority of churches have taken the most incredible, inspiring, and life changing news about Jesus and the hope of freedom, acceptance and redemption and turned it into a boring academic conversation. While many churches may be biblically educational they’re not very inspirational. Facts don’t change people’s lives. If they did those Surgeon General’s warning labels on the side of a pack of cigarettes would curb smoking and we all know how that’s working out. People want to be a part of something that means something and has real every day power in their life.

4. People are Embarrassed to Invite their Friends

Most people are embarrassed to invite their friends to attend church with them. They’re embarrassed that the facility looks like it’s fresh from the 1980’s (or worse). They’re embarrassed that their friend will be treated poorly and have a bad experience. They’re embarrassed that the worship service is good enough for people who are already in, but not for their friend. They’re rightfully worried that the singing will be subpar or the sermon will be boring.

5. The Church has Forgotten what it’s For

Simply put, the Church in America has forgotten what on Earth it’s here for. It’s forgotten that the Church isn’t for Christians. It doesn’t exist for people inside the Church. The Church exists for people who don’t yet know Jesus. You can’t come to Church because if you’ve said yes to following Jesus you are the Church. The Church is a movement you choose to be a part of to help people meet, know, and follow Jesus.

Photo Credit: Daniel Kulinski via Compfight cc


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation

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A New Leadership Podcast I’m Listening To

There are literally dozens of excellent podcasts you can subscribe to for insights from well-known pastors, authors and leaders. If you’re already listening and learning from some of those podcasts I think you should probably keep listening to them.

For this new podcast, we wanted to offer you a chance to learn from pastors just like you who are taking significant steps to get unstuck. The team at the Unstuck Group is in hundreds of churches each year, of all different sizes and denominations. I think we have a unique perspective and unique access to stories that will both encourage and challenge you right where you are now.

In each episode of The Leadership Unstuck Podcast, we’re going to share three things:

1) Insights from Pastors

We will interview pastors about specific challenges and wins they’ve experienced in aspects of church leadership we believe are essential for getting unstuck.

2) Practical Next Steps

We’ll build on the same topic in a practical conversation with members of The Unstuck Group team to give you ideas for your next steps.

3) Laughs

We’re going to have some fun… because you need to laugh more.

Our aim with this is to bring you stories you can relate to that inspire hope. But we also know hope alone is not a strategy, so we’ll always take the conversation to practical next steps.

We can’t wait to get these first episodes out to you. We’re working hard and should have them out on iTunes and Google Play this month.

Opt-in here, and we’ll email you the links to the first two episodes as soon as we release them.


Posted in Leadership

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What Growing Churches do Differently

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It’s not faith, it’s not luck, and it’s not some leadership secret. Growing churches are actually doing something differently than the other 80% of churches in America that are stuck or declining.

At the Unstuck Group we work with 100’s of churches every year and we’ve discovered that growing churches are actually doing some very tangible things differently than other churches. Below are just a few of them.

1. Staff Led

Look at the statistics across America and you’ll discover that growing churches have very few congregational votes. These churches are Staff led instead of Board led or Congregationally led. Practically speaking that is because Church Boards are part-time thinkers and they simply don’t have the time to give to a full-time job of running the church. As a result decision making and implementation slow down because the staff are constantly catching the Board or the church up on the past instead of leading the church into the future. I know this isn’t always an easy transition for churches to make. I’d suggest you pick up a copy of High Impact Church Boards to read through with the Board at your church and get the conversation started.

2. Intentionally Develop Leaders

Growing churches develop leaders at an exponential rate compared to most churches in America. They do this intentionally, not just “organically,” (which is code for we don’t have a plan and we hope it somehow magically happens). They don’t just use people to fill volunteer roles, they see volunteering as an essential part of the discipleship process. They delegate responsibility and empower volunteers with real ministry decision-making power. They develop some kind of formal content that is specific to the culture of their church and train up and coming leaders in that content. This allows them to hire from within instead of hiring from outside and jeopardizing their culture.

3. Embrace Technology

Growing churches embrace technology. This may simply be evidence that they are more likely to change methodology based on effectiveness more readily than other churches and that they are open to new ideas. But whatever the case they are embracing the use of technology through social media engagement, online marketing, big data, video teaching, and use of technology in weekend worship services. This isn’t new. I don’t think it’s a mere coincidence that the protestant reformation took place during a similar time period to the printing press and the Bible being translated, printed in the hands of the everyday guy. With advancements in technology come opportunities for advancements in the Gospel for churches that embrace them.

4. Clear Strategy

Growing churches don’t just hope and pray for growth, they plan for it and build a clear actionable strategy to grow. Hoping your church will grow won’t make your church grow and growing churches understand this. They develop clear strategies (strategy answers the question “How are we going to do this?”), to help them get to their vision (vision answers the question “Where are we going?”). This informs all of their decision-making and allows them to align resources (people, time, money, facilities, etc.) to get them where they believe Jesus has called them to go. They’re also fanatical about clarity, because they understand the clearer they can make things, the faster they can go and the more effective they can be.

Interested in getting your church unstuck and growing again? I’d encourage you to reach out to the Unstuck Group. We’ve built a trusted track record and have a proven process to help your church get unstuck!


Posted in Leadership

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Tearing Down Leadership Idols in the Church

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A quick Google search on “Church Leadership” will turn up literally over 170 million links. That’s a lot of content to dig into on church leadership. For all of the talk about church leadership out there today it sure seems that the church is pretty leadership poor. I know some folks down in Texas that would say that churches have a bad case of “big hat, no cattle.” Another way to say it would be that churches are all talk and no action when it comes to leadership.

With that said, there really are some leadership idols that many church leaders buy into that need to be torn down.

“Leadership is Influence”

If leadership was simply influence than my kids are the best leaders in my house. They’ve influenced the kind of car (or land yacht) I’ve purchased, the house we live in, our grocery budget and so on. While influence is a part of leadership, it’s not leadership. The Bible doesn’t define leadership as influence; it defines leadership as a spiritual gift. Not everybody has it.

“We need to Hire more Staff”

The church of America has been lulled into this idea that they have to hire more staff to do the ministry at their churches. Hiring another staff member may be the worst thing you can at your church this year. Your church most likely doesn’t need more staff to do ministry, rather your existing staff need to learn how to delegate, empower, and develop your church body to stop just coming to the church but be the church. Your church is full of competent and highly talented people who actually get paid to perform complicated jobs. Chances are they have a lot to offer at your church too. 

“Preachers are Leaders”

Just because you’re a gifted communicator doesn’t mean you’re a gifted leader. It means you’re a gifted communicator. Young church leaders are taught (more by the prevailing church ministry model in the U.S. than by the Bible) that if you want to lead in a church then you have to do it from a stage, and if you’re not a gifted communicator then your not a gifted leader. That’s simply not true. Leadership is not just about inspiration and instruction (what happens from a stage). It’s also about being up close and over time with people and taking them from where they are to where they need to be. There’s more to that than stage. And frankly I’ve seen some fantastic preachers who can’t lead themselves or anyone else out of a wet paper bag.

“Leadership is Power”

Great leaders don’t simply amass and wield great amounts of power, rather they have the uncanny ability to share power and give it away to others. Barking out orders doesn’t endear people to you. You get more when you give, even in the economy of leadership.

What are other “leadership idols” you’ve seen in churches? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear your insights!

Photo Credit: Pondspider via Compfight cc


Posted in Leadership
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