10 Articles that will Help Your Church Make Vision Real


Thank you for making September a great month here at Helping Churches Make Vision Real! It’s great 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

Yea, so even though this was written in 2013, this post continues to be one of the most visited on my blog. The language we choose to use is important because it both reflects and builds culture at the same time. And one of the most obvious ways to tell if a church is insider focused or outsider focused is the language that they choose to use. It either says that the church is “inclusive” or “exclusive.”

10 Indicators You’re Leading an Outsider-Focused Church

If you haven’t noticed, helping churches become outsider-focused and on mission with Jesus really matters to me. There is a tension that exists in most churches in America, a tension between being outsider-focused and insider-focused. The majority of churches I’ve worked with would affirm in principle that the bible teaches us that the Church should be focused on what Jesus is focused on, and that’s people who are outside of the faith meeting and following Him. However in practice most churches focus the majority of their budgets, staffing, energy and efforts not on reaching outsiders but keeping insiders happy. This leads to churches being insider-focused and missing the mission that Jesus has called His Church to.

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. This is a critical issue for churches to figure out. The reason why this has to be a front-burner issue is because at the heart of it, volunteering is an essential component of the discipleship process in someone’s life. Plainly put, volunteering is discipleship. Understanding that, here are 8 reasons people aren’t volunteering in your church…and subsequently aren’t growing in their relationship with God.

The 5 Most Common Core Issues Facing the Church Today

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Tony Morgan to discuss one of the Top 5 Core Issues Facing the Church Today. We discussed both internal and external communications. You see at The Unstuck Group we’ve worked with a lot of churches in the last couple of years, and we’ve started seeing some trends in the core issues that keep coming up. So, we conducted a small research project to identify the top five most common core issues of the churches we’ve worked with in the last year.

5 Symptoms your Church Needs more Volunteers

Through our research at the Unstuck Group we’ve discovered that the average church in America has 43% of their adults and students volunteering somewhere in the church. Follow this link if you’re interested in learning if your church is healthy in this area and others. While a lot of churches need more volunteers, most don’t know why they need more volunteers, or why it’s difficult for them to enlist and keep new volunteers.

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. It’s not uncommon in churches that I work with to hear them say, “We need to add more staff.” After all if there are problems or areas where the church is stuck then throwing staff at that problem will surely fix it…right? Well, not always. In fact the opposite may be true. In fact the most effective churches that I see have a tendency to hire fewer staff not more staff. They hire more competent team members who have the ability to turn attenders into volunteers, volunteers into leaders, and build teams. Instead of paying people to do ministry they pay people to lead others to do ministry.

5 Ways to Help Your Small Groups be Successful

Whether you are starting from scratch at a brand-new church plant or blowing up a large system at an existing church, there are some principles that can help set up your new plan for success down the road. Here are five guidelines to think through.

Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit 2015

If you missed the 2015 Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit, then you missed some great content, great speakers, and incredible ideas that have the potential to shift your thinking when it comes to leadership. But no worries! Now you’ve got all the notes to every session right here at your fingertips for free! Hope you enjoy!

Ministry Health Assessment: Discover the True Health of your Church

I am really excited to let you know about a brand new tool from the Unstuck Group that will help you discover the true health of your church! For the first time ever you can actually take an online version of our Health Assessment tool and benchmark the health of your Church. You respond to the online survey; our team will analyze the responses and send you a customized report benchmarking your data against churches across the country. The report will give you unbiased data on your church’s health that you can use to inform your strategic priorities related to outreach, finances, connections, family ministry, serving, staffing and more!

Why Nice People Kill Churches

For the last 12 years I’ve had the incredible opportunity to serve on the Sr. Leadership Teams of some of the nations fastest growing and leading churches. Over that time I’ve observed time and time again one of the most destructive inclinations to church growth and the advancement of the Gospel is the simple fact that people on staff at most churches are simply too nice to each other.

Photo Credit: justin fain via Compfight cc

Posted in Leadership


Learning from Kids about Leadership


The other day I sat down with a couple of the most influential people in my life to talk about leadership. Their perspective and input is very important to me. No leader becomes a great leader alone. Great leaders learn from others and invite input from others they trust.

Me? Some of the voices I listen to are my 11 year old, 10 year old, 7 year old, and 2 year old kids. Here’s what they had to say about leadership.

  • Leadership is setting an example for people around you.
  • Good leadership is being the best you can be.
  • Good leaders are obedient to their parents…translation…leaders know how to be under authority not just in authority.
  • Leadership means always having a happy heart…translation…the attitude of a leader matters.
  • Good leaders care more for others than they do for themselves.
  • Good leaders let others go first.
  • Bad leaders have a bad attitude and don’t care about others.
  • Good leaders always have good sportsmanship.
  • Bad leaders don’t care about others opinions, they’re in it for themselves…translations a sure fire way to become a bad leader is only looking out for yourself and not listening to others.
  • Bad leaders don’t want to be around their families…translation…bad leaders are lonely leaders, they lead alone.
  • “Don’t be a bad leader” (nuff said)

Oh, and my 2 year old added, “bee-doo, bee-doo, bee-doo Goooo Gators!” (smart kid)

Posted in Leadership


5 Big Questions to Answer Before you go Multisite


Currently there are more than 8,000 multisite churches across America and more than 1,600 mega churches (churches of more than 2,000 people in weekly attendance). While both are growing the multisite church movement has outpaced the mega church movement in America. What was once seen as only a Band-Aid strategy for space issues at mega churches has become a vehicle for growth in local churches of all kinds and all sizes (the average size a church goes multisite is around 850-1200). “Multi” doesn’t mean “Mega” anymore.

Your church may be considering going multisite. If so, that’s exciting news and I’d love to hear about it! But before you do here are 5 big questions you need to answer before you take the multisite plunge.

1. How are we going to Deliver Teaching?

About 50% of multisite churches are delivering teaching via video while the other 50% are using live teaching in their locations. Live teaching requires less investment in technology for distribution while delivering teaching via video allows for clearer vision, culture and leadership through one voice. There are a lot of pros and cons. What best fits the unique personality of your church and best supports the vision of where you’re going?

2. Why are we going Multisite?

This is the biggest question you need to be able to answer before you pull the trigger on multisite. Are you doing it because you are mimicking the practice of others or are you doing it because it’s a natural recourse of your identity and vision? Do you have a culture worth replicating or would you be better off church planting? Multisite is not a growth engine, but it is a delivery system for growth. If your church is currently stuck and not growing, moving to a multisite model is not going to make your church grow.

3. What are we looking for in a Campus Pastor?

Are you looking for someone who is a visionary and entrepreneurial or are you looking for someone who is a strong leader and can implement and replicate systems and culture? Do you need someone who can teach and lead from the stage or someone who can develop staff and build teams? Do you want to hire from within so they already understand your culture or do you want to hire from the outside so you can change things? Do you know what you’re looking for in a campus pastor?

4. What is our Launch Strategy?

Have you chosen a strategic location that reflects your culture? Are you launching in a location where you already have people who drive to your original campus living in? Have you developed a core team and started small groups in the community prior to a public launch of the new campus? Do you have a financial model built to move the campus towards becoming financially self sustaining and ultimately giving towards future campuses? Have you developed a staffing strategy for the campus as it launches and grows? How will you grand open the location and invite the community?

5. How Consistent will our Approach be?

How autonomous or consistent will each campus be in it’s approach to ministry? Will the guest experience be the same or unique on each campus? Will people check-in kids the same way on each campus? Will the weekend worship service be identical, similar, or different? Will each campus have the same ministries or unique? Will each campus go on their own mission trips and have their own local and international partners or will campuses pool their resources and do it together? The list could go on and on, but the question that needs to be answered is how consistent will you be in your approach?

Posted in Leadership


Five Ways to Help Your Small Groups be Successful

The following is a guest post by Chris Surratt. Chris is a ministry consultant with the Unstuck Group and has over twenty-two years of experience serving the local church. Most recently, Chris served on the Executive Team at Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN. Before coming to Cross Point in 2009, Chris was on staff at Seacoast Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Chris’s first book, Small Groups For The Rest Of Us: How to Design Your Small Groups System to Reach the Fringes, will be released by Thomas Nelson on September 29, 2015. You can find Chris blogging regularly at www.chrissurratt.com on the subjects of community, discipleship and leadership.

Whether you are starting from scratch at a brand-new church plant or blowing up a large system at an existing church, there are some principles that can help set up your new plan for success down the road. Here are five guidelines to think through.

1. Define the Win

Every ministry has to decide what its win looks like, and this is especially true for groups. If you don’t know what success looks like, how can you celebrate it? As you dream about what groups could look like at your church, start with the end in mind. What results would you like to see if your system works perfectly? Andy Stanley says, “Your system is perfectly designed to get the results you’re getting.” If my church is not producing disciples, there’s probably a systems problem. If only a small percentage of the congregation is involved in groups, it’s probably a systems issue. If we are not developing enough leaders to keep up with our growth, it probably has something to do with our leadership development system.

2. Choose a Champion

I talk to a lot of small-group pastors who cannot get any traction with groups at their churches. The first question I ask is, Is your senior pastor in a small group? Almost every time the answer is “no.”

It’s not impossible to build a successful groups system without the senior leader being fully on board, but it’s extremely difficult. The congregation is going to take its cues from the leaders, and if the senior pastor is not engaged in community, they will follow his lead. It does not matter how much he talks about the importance of groups from the pulpit if there are not consistent stories circulating from his own small group.

3. Put It in the Budget

When it comes down to budgeting for small groups, a lot of churches follow the example of Pharaoh in Exodus:

That same day the king gave a command to the slave masters and foremen. He said, “Don’t give the people straw to make bricks as you used to do. Let them gather their own straw. But they must still make the same number of bricks as they did before. Do not accept fewer.” (Exodus 5:6–8)

We are asking our point people for groups to build a successful system without the necessary straw but still expecting big results. As much as we want to believe community happens organically, it still takes resources for them to be strategic and effective.

4. Make It Scalable

Your church may never triple in size overnight (although it could), but now is the time to start planning for God to do the unexpected. What happens when you activate your first all-church campaign and suddenly need to triple the number of current groups to meet the demand? Do you have enough coaches? How difficult is it to become a small-group leader? Can you fast-track the vetting of new leaders? You should always be ready to go when God moves.

5. Make It Replicable

Think through not only what could be replicable across different locations, but also what do small groups look like in different layers of your church? The heart of student and kids ministries are small groups, and those ministries can benefit from partnering with the adult groups system for training, leadership development, and structure ideas. What if the same team that develops Sunday message studies works with the student leaders on theirs? What if a few adult group leaders mentor small-group leaders in the kid’s ministry? Replicating successful systems will help break down silos within a church.

Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation


Mastering the Art of Facilitation


If you haven’t noticed leadership and leading young leaders in particular is changing. Peter Drucker, considered to be the father of modern management, actually predicted this shift. He once said that:

“The leader of the past was a person who knew how to tell. The leader of the future will be a person who knows how to ask.”

Most leaders find it easier to tell than to ask. And that’s because it is. It takes less time and it requires less personal security (among other things). But facilitating leaders have got this “ask first tell second” concept down.

The Team Outperforms the Individual

Great facilitators believe that the team outperforms the individual. That “we” is always better than “me.” While you may be a fantastic leader, no leader gets everything right every time. Involving the team reduces your “miss-rate,” and builds trust and buy-in at the same time.

Process not Content

Great facilitators believe that they’re “process” and the “content” lives within their team. The job of the facilitating leader is to mine out and unlock the best ideas from their team. They trust the process and their team. Try believing in your team, you may just be surprised how they rise to the occasion.

Questions not Answers

Instead of leading with answers, facilitating leaders lead with questions. Even if your experience and leadership intuition tells you the right answer, resist the temptation to tell, and instead ask. Facilitating leaders don’t believe they have all the right answers so they ask good questions. Asking great questions teaches people to think and begin to develop their leadership muscle instead of just blindly follow by being told what to do.

By the way, if you haven’t connected the dots yet, let me help. Peter Drucker didn’t think this one up all by himself. This idea is a very Gospel centered idea. The Apostle Paul wrote about this idea multiple times throughout the New Testament comparing Christians to the “body of Christ.” Stating over and over again this idea that we are better together and none of us are as good as all of us.

Posted in Leadership, Staffing
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