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Why I Love Working at Sun Valley Community Church

Every year at Sun Valley Community Church we share wins from the previous year of ministry and I thought I’d share them with you. I hope this is encouraging to you, inspires you, and prompts you to pray for the ministry of Sun Valley.

I know that ministry isn’t all about the numbers, it’s about life change. That’s why I’m excited about these numbers, because they represent lives that are being changed.  These numbers below represent stories of people who Sun Valley has helped meet, know and follow Jesus.

  • 902 people said yes to following Jesus
  • 763 people were baptized
  • 334 households took the “90 Day Challenge” and started tithing for the first time
  • 2,588 people grew in their relationship with Jesus by being in a Small Group
  • 2,532 people made a difference with their life by serving on a Volunteer Team
  • 1,581 kids and students were impacted through camps
  • 409 people went on a short-term mission trip
  • Over 1.5 Million Dollars went outside the 4-walls of Sun Valley Community Church to help people all over the world meet, know and follow Jesus
  • We opened a campus in Queen Creek and it has averaged 1,256 in weekend attendance during their first year. That campus also just broke 3,000 on Christmas Eve
  • We grand opened our permanent location in Casa Grande (they were set up and tear down…the campus is pretty stoked about it…so am I) and have grown and averaged 479 in weekend attendance since the move
  • Sun Valley was recognized as the 28th fastest growing church in the country and 65th largest church in the country

You’re allowed to celebrate right along with us. The Kingdom of God is taking ground through the ministry of Sun Valley! If I didn’t work at Sun Valley, I would go to Sun Valley. I’m really honored to be a part of what Jesus is doing at Sun Valley, it’s legitimately the most fun I’ve every had in ministry! This year I celebrate 7 years on Staff this year and I’m looking forward to many more to come!

So pray big prayers and take big risks, because we have a big God, and He still does big things! I’d encourage you, if the Lord brings us to your mind, pray for us as we continue to help the thousands who don’t yet know Jesus meet, know, and follow Him.


Posted in Leadership

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Why People Don’t Invite their Friends to your Church

There are a lot of reasons people go and check out a church for the first time. Maybe someone they know gets married and they go to celebrate their wedding or someone they know passes away and they go for the funeral. It may be that they already go to church on a regular basis and they move to a new area and are looking for a new church, or they decide to leave their old church for any number of reasons and are trying to find a new one. It may be that they saw some clever marketing from your church and decided to try it out or there is some crisis going on in their life and they think they might find some answers at church. Like I said, there are a lot of reasons people check out a church for the first time.

For all of those possibilities, the number one reason people attend a church for the first time is still because a friend personally invites them.

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.

#1 Quality Matters…a lot

I know churches don’t like to talk about this but it’s an unavoidable truth if you really want to reach and introduce new people to Jesus. I’ve been in too many churches whose facilities have not been maintained, they’re fresh out of 1978 and it’s not on par with other public space in their community. I’ve seen too many churches with someone leading worship on stage that just can’t sing. I’ve also been to too many churches who claim to be friendly but if you’re not an insider no one ever talks to you. I don’t think any of those churches intended to push away guests, but they did. Where did we get this idea that intent supersedes experience? I think we’ve misread the Scriptures that teach us that while man looks on the outside that God looks on the heart. The fact that God looks at the heart should challenge us and the fact that man looks on the outside should also challenge us! I don’t think that scripture in particular is a judgement statement in so much as it is a simple observation and fact. I could go on, but I think you get my point.

Question: Is what we are offering our guests quality? Are people not inviting their friends because they’re embarrassed to? How could we do less but do it with greater quality?

#2 New People bring New People

In John chapter 4 an entire village of people meets Jesus. Not because a missionary or pastor went to them or someone went through an evangelism training course but because of a simple invitation. A woman who had known Jesus for all of a couple of minutes invited everyone she knew to meet Him too. She was “new to Jesus.” New to Jesus people don’t need to be sequestered from their friends who don’t know Jesus and placed into some training program and then “sent” back out. They need to be encouraged to simply invite their friend to Jesus. Most people in our churches who have been around Jesus the longest invite the fewest people to Him (seems a little wrong if you ask me…but what do I know). This usually happens because over time they hang out with less and less people who are unfamiliar with Jesus. They wake up one day and all of their friends are Christians.

Question: Do we have new people at our church, and are we investing more in new people or in people who have been around for a while?

#3 Guest Comfort Level

Now I’m getting really shallow. I know. But like it or not if guests aren’t comfortable they aren’t going to be a lot of them at your church. There are a lot of things that can make a guest feel uncomfortable at your church. I’ve been to churches that don’t ever mention guests in their services. I’ve been to some churches that had really poor signage and I had no idea how to navigate the facility. I’ve been to churches that ask guests to remain seated during the service so regular attenders can come say hello (yea, there is no way I’m doing that). I’ve been to churches that tell people if they want to get into a small group to go see Cindi and I’ve thought to myself, “Who’s Cindi and where am I supposed to meet her if I want to get into a Small Group?” Churches are notorious for making outsiders feel like, well…outsiders. And then they wonder why guests don’t come back.

Question: What insider behaviors and language do we use that makes it difficult for outsiders to gain access to Jesus?

#4 Fun

Now I’ve probably finally gone off the deep end with this one. But if your church isn’t fun, if people don’t laugh, they simply aren’t going to invite their friends. No one invites their friends to stuff that isn’t fun. If kids don’t have a good experience at your church, you might be doing it wrong. If people don’t laugh at some point you might be doing it wrong. Jesus was actually really funny by the way. Jim Rayburn the founder of Young Life said, ”It’s a sin to bore a kid.” If that’s true then a lot of our churches might be in risk of sinning. Hmmmm… (yes I said people may not invite their friends to your church because it’s boring)

Question: Do people have fun when they come to our church? What can we do to help church be a fun experience?

If you’re a courageous church leader it may be worth your time to get your Sr. Leadership Team together to discuss where in your community people invite their friends to go with them to. Seriously, make a real list on a white board or something. Then make another list of all the reasons people invite their friends to go there with them. Then finally compare that to your church…you may be onto something at that point.


Posted in Leadership

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Top 10 Church Leadership Posts from 2017

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Posted in Leadership

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Are You the Type of Person that can Work at a Fast-Growing Church?

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Not everyone gets to work at a fast-growing church. Yes, I know a list comes out every year that identifies America’s top 100 fastest growing churches and there’s a lot of staff members represented in those top 100 churches. But in context to the more than 400,000 churches in America that’s a pretty small percentage of church staff members.

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.

There are all kinds of contributing factors to a church going through a period of fast growth, and at the top of the list is the Holy Spirit. In today’s booming market of church leadership and church growth strategy we would be making a mistake not to give credit where it is due. Jesus said He would be the one to build His Church.

That being said, I’ve had the unique blessing of serving at 3 very fast-growing churches. One went from 1,000 to more than 3,000, another went from 2,500 to 6,000 and the church I currently serve at I’ve had a front row seat to see it grow from 3,000 to 8,000.

While there are a lot of factors that contributed to those seasons of incredible 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…

1. Agile

They’re able to adapt to changing circumstances quickly and they don’t mind changing directions on projects. They become, “masters of midcourse corrections.” They love being on the team and they’re willing play different roles at different times based on what’s needed for the team to win. Ambiguity doesn’t bother them all that much because they trust and believe in the team and they know that together they’ll, “figure it out.”

2. Sober minded

They are self-aware enough to know what they’re good at and they play to their strengths and they play their part on the team. They’re also humble enough to do what’s best for the church and not for themselves or their career. They’re willing to change roles or have someone hired in over top of them so they don’t become the lid to growth.

3. Low Control

In a fast-growing church, you can’t have a staff member that is high control. There’s not time or bandwidth for micromanagement or perfectionism. In a fast-growing church, high control prevents you from generating new ideas and getting those ideas implemented and keeping up with the pace of growth because by the time the idea or new “product” is good enough to release you’ve missed the opportunity. Remember, the Gospel wasn’t meant to be controlled but unleashed.

4. Solution Oriented

Instead of focusing on problems and the past they’re focused on solutions and the future. Instead of talking to their supervisors about all of the reasons they can’t do something they’re bringing ideas of all the things they could do. They’re not as concerned about constraints as they are about what must be figured out. While there may be a lack of resources these team members are resourceful and they find a way.

5. Resilient

These church staff members have an unusually high pain tolerance. They’re typically leading through change and with change comes criticism. They know how to listen to the right people and ignore the rest. They’re laser focused on the vision of where they’re going and they’re willing to endure pain to get there, because it’s worth it to them.

6. Approach to Credit

These church staff members would rather the team win than worry about if they get any of the credit for it. They’re quick to accept responsibility and take credit when things go poorly and they’re equally quick to give away credit to others when they go well.

I’m sure there’s some characteristics that I’ve missed. If you’ve served in a fast-growing church what are some characteristics of the team members that made them different than other teams you’ve served on? Leave a comment!


Posted in Leadership, Staffing

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

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Stuckness is no respecter of the “brand” or “flavor” of a church. All kinds of churches 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.

At the Unstuck Group we’ve literally worked with hundreds of churches and one of the many things we’ve learned along the way is that there are 5 Core Issues that keep churches stuck.

The good news is that in 2018 your church doesn’t have to stay stuck.

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.

What are you and your team willing to differently this year when it comes to your approach to these 5 Core Issues?

Discipleship Pathway

I’ve seen a lot of churches that offer a myriad of classes, small groups, and a grocery list of ministries that clutter people’s lives and compete for time, promotion, money and participation. But it’s rare to find a church that has a clear strategic pathway for people who are new to following Jesus to move towards knowing and following him. Is your church providing a menu of ministry offerings or clear next steps for people who connect with your church to become more fully devoted followers of Jesus?

Leadership Development

While many church leaders search for an off the shelf tool or some new content that is promised to produce leaders in their church they forget that the Church itself is the greatest leadership development engine that’s ever been designed. How deep is the leadership bench at your church? Most churches are struggling to identify their up and coming young leaders. Is your church attracting, identifying, and intentionally developing young leaders? Most are hopeful that it will somehow happen, but hope isn’t a strategy. Check out these 10 Articles that will Help your Church Develop Young Leaders. Developing people is different than offering a class. What are you going to do to invest in people differently this year?

Mission / Vision

Clarity is king. Without clarity churches are left to fumble around in a fog and hope for the best. However, the clearer become the better decisions can be made and the faster alignment can be accomplished. When everyone on the team has clarity, and knows where you’re going and who is supposed to do what next things can really get moving. Unfortunately, the majority of churches aren’t very clear about their mission (why they exist) or vision (where they are going), and so they stay stuck. Here’s a post that will help you and your team gain more clarity on your mission and vision.

Communications

It’s not uncommon in churches to find ministries competing for “air time” in the weekend worship services. Many church staff members mistakenly think that if “their” ministry offering isn’t announced on the weekend then it’s not important and it can’t be successful. As a result, churches end up relying on the weekend bulletin and announcements in their services as the extent of their communication strategy. They communicate everything to everyone, hoping to get someone involved. If it’s not announced from the stage then they spam people to death with constant emails that are just ignored or deleted. Interested in learning more about church communications? Check out these 10 Findings from New Research on Church Communications.

Volunteers

A simple but deep truth that seems to have been forgotten is that volunteering is discipleship. Volunteering is not just about roles that need to be filled anymore but people that need to be developed. The role of the Church Staff Member isn’t to do the ministry but to equip the church to do the ministry. While most church staff would generally agree to that statement, few are actually doing it. Want to learn more about developing an effective Volunteer Strategy at your Church? Check out these 10 Articles that will Help your Church Build a Stronger Volunteer Culture.

If you behave differently towards these 5 Core Issues this year, you’ll get different results. And if you need help getting unstuck then connect with us at the Unstuck Group, we can help this next year be the best year of ministry you’ve ever experienced!


Posted in Leadership
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