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Vision is a Destination not a Statement

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Vision is a destination, not a statement. Many churches spend an incredible amount of time wordsmithing pithy vision statements instead of providing a clear picture of where they’re going. What a majority of churches view as their vision statement is usually a mission statement.

Mission Answers the Question: Why do we exist?

This is the timeless answer to why your church is on the planet in the first place. We don’t get to pick our mission Jesus did that for us. That’s the whole, “go and make disciples,” part. But we do get to pick language that contextualizes it for our culture.

Vision Answers the Question: Where are we going?

This is the next hill that needs to be taken. Vision typically changes every 3-5 years. Vision changes because once you get there and have taken then hill, there’s always the next hill to take.

Most church staff can’t articulate the next hill their church is taking. They don’t’ know the target on the wall they’re shooting for. One way to begin to bring clarity to the vision at your church is to simply ask the question,

“Where would we be in 3-5 years if our church faithfully lived out the mission Jesus has given us in the context of our community, unique culture of our church, gifting and passions of our Sr. Leadership, and resources that God has given us?”

Doing the serious work to answer this question will help you put a target on the wall to hit. Getting crystal clear on this will have a “trickle down” effect on every decision made in your church over the next 3-5 years. It will allow you to:

  1. Set goals and measure results.
  2. Determine how to allocate resources and budget.
  3. Help you understand how you need to structure your staffing model.
  4. Bring alignment to ministries.

Posted in Leadership

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If it’s Not on a Screen it’s Not Multisite

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Being a part of leading a large multisite church, I’m frequently asked by church leaders about my thoughts on various multisite models and how we do it at the church I’m a part of. In this post I’m going to answer that question (to an extent) for everyone reading this article and here’s a little warning, I’m going to say it in a bit of a straight forward matter of fact manner. Here’s the way I look at it, and I reserve the right to be wrong…

“If it’s not on a screen, it’s not a multisite.”

It may be multi-congregational or even a family of churches, but it’s not a multisite church. The simple reason why is teaching. Nothing else in your church has the power the build the unique culture of your church in so much as teaching does. This is why people say the organization always takes on the characteristics and personality (culture) of the leader. When you have different people preaching at different locations, no matter how similar they are, no matter how good of friends they are, no matter how hard they work to be on the same page with the presentation, you’re going to get a different culture. You’re going to get a different church. And like it or not, people who attend churches look to the primary communicator of that location as the leader. Here’s a really quick overview (obviously there are slight variations).

Multi-Site

Big Idea: “One Church Multiple Locations”
Preaching: Preaching is delivered via video. No matter if it’s one primary communicator or a teaching team approach, whoever is preaching is preaching the same message at every location via video.
Governance: There is one Board of Elders that provides oversight to the entire church; all campuses no matter the location. The Board is not put in place for the representation of the campuses (it’s not congress).
Ministry Practices: These churches have a tendency to be more identical in their ministry practices and staffing structures (based on scale). Ministry practices are typically overseen by a Central Ministry Team that coaches and influences each campus towards best practices and objectives

Multi-Congregational

Big Idea: “One Church Multiple Congregations”
Preaching: Preaching is delivered live at each location. Often times the main communicators on each campus collaborate to ensure that they are generally covering the same content.
Governance: There is still some kind of directional team making high-level decisions that have some affect on each congregation, but each congregation has their own Board of Elders making local decisions.
Ministry Practices: Often these churches will share branding and some communication (print & visual media) resources and a centralized Business Department may support all congregations. However each congregation has much more freedom and independence as to what ministries they build and start.

Family of Churches

Big Idea: “Multiple Churches with One Cause”
Preaching: Preaching is live at each location, each church may even have it’s own teaching team. They may share their best teaching series with each other, and speak at each other’s churches from time to time, but that’s about it.
Governance: Early on often these churches will have a Board of outside Pastors from the Family of Churches govern the new church until it is mature enough to have it’s own Board. Similarly often another stronger church in the Family of Churches may manage the business function of the newer church until it has the capacity to do so on their own.
Ministry Practices: Families of churches typically organize around a theological ideal or a common cause such as church planting. While these churches certainly learn from one another and even pick up best practices from one another they are autonomous in their approach.


Posted in Leadership

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Why Churches don’t Change

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Churches don’t change. In fact most churches avoid changing at all cost, even if it means not growing. It’s so bad that I’ve seen churches choose to close their doors over choosing to change. Below are 6 common reasons I’ve observed why churches choose not to change. One of these might be why your church won’t change.

Procrastination

Churches find themselves talking about the same issues they’ve been talking about for years. Instead of making decisions and doing the hard work of dealing with those issues they’re sitting around waiting on a silver bullet, innovative idea that will never come but if it did it would magically solve all of their problems.

Structure

Churches don’t change because their structure won’t allow it. They can’t make decisions in a timely manner because there are too many boards, committees, polity to wade through, and church votes to take to actually do anything.

Focus

Churches are more focused on taking care of the sheep then they are inviting new people to the family. They make decisions based on who they are trying to keep rather than who they’re trying to reach.

Desire

Churches don’t want to change. They like things the way they are. They like knowing everyone at church, they like singing the same songs, they like the warm blanket and safety and security of knowing what to expect. In a world that is constantly changing around them they pride themselves on never changing.

Money

Churches don’t change because of money. If they really did change then the people who are funding the church might leave and stop giving. So they keep things the way they are

Fear

Churches are afraid of leading through change. The tough thing about leadership is that eventually you have to lead. It takes real courage to receive criticism, some of it fanatical in a church setting, and keep moving in the direction the Lord has asked you to go.

Want to change your church? Engage the Unstuck Group and let us help you grow your impact through church consulting and coaching experiences designed to focus vision, strategy and action.


Posted in Leadership

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Why going Multisite won’t Fix your Church

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The last stats I saw showed that 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.

I’m excited about this trend, because I’m excited about churches growing and reaching new people with the Gospel. But one trend I’ve observed about the multisite movement concerns me. 80% of churches in America are stuck or in decline and a growing number of them are looking to multisite as the silver bullet to fix their “stuckness.” Here’s why I’m concerned…

1. There is no Silver Bullet Fix for your Church

I’ve never seen a church (or a business, relationship, or anything else in life for that matter) where there was a silver bullet fix. For churches that are stuck or in decline, please don’t multisite. Trust me, you’ll only make it worse. Master the standard and then innovate.

2. Don’t go Multisite until you have to

Don’t go multisite until you have to. Sounds simple enough right? What that means is if you don’t have momentum don’t try to manufacture it through going multisite. It will backfire on you. If you’re already doing multiple services, if you’re already growing and reaching new people with the Gospel, if you already have momentum, if you already have the leadership and organizational bandwidth to do it then by all means, please, go multisite.

3. Don’t replicate Complexity

It’s near impossible to replicate complexity and let’s face it most churches in America are complex. If you have a menu approach to ministry where you pride yourself on having something for everyone it’s going to be difficult to replicate that at a new campus.

4. Going Multisite shines a light on your Strengths AND your Weaknesses

While your church may have some islands of strength to build on (just about every church does), it also has some weakness (again just about every church does). Multisite may amplify your strengths but it will do the same to your weaknesses, the ones you know about, and the ones you don’t.

5. Overextending yourself always Leads to Decline

One of my greatest concerns I see in churches going multisite before they’re ready is that they have a tendency to overextend themselves when it comes to staff, volunteers, finances, and so on. Over reaching always leads to decline and if you’re already stuck or declining multisite isn’t going to help.

Photo Credit: kevin dooley via Compfight cc


Posted in Leadership

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Are you a Perfectionist or a Leader?

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There’s a big difference between a perfectionist and a leader. One draws people to a cause and the other repels them. While perfectionists may be adept at pointing out opportunities for improvement few people will want to join them in the process of improving things. I’m sure you don’t know any perfectionistic church leaders and I know you’re not one. But just in-case you ever come across one, here’s a few thoughts that may be helpful.

  • When you lead with handing out instructions you don’t put yourself in a position to be instructed.
  • If no one can do it as good as you then no one will be doing it but you. Perfectionism is lonely and is a lid to organizational growth.
  • You know who listens to a know-it-all? No one.
  • Perfectionism is the enemy of innovation.
  • You can’t play it safe and follow Jesus. The very essence of following Jesus is going somewhere you’ve never been before.
  • High control leads to low trust. By the way, you know control is an illusion right? The only thing you can really control is your effort and your attitude.
  • If you wait for the perfect plan you’ll never get out of the gate.
  • Good enough is good enough for good leaders.
  • Leaders care too much about results and progress to be paralyzed by waiting on the perfect next step (or first step).
  • Perfectionism is the low road and the easy way out. Leadership requires developing others, and allowing others to do it differently than you (maybe even fail, yikes!). It’s way harder!
  • Imagine if Jesus acted like a perfectionist with you. He doesn’t criticize you when you don’t do it perfectly. He really could do it better than you and He still invites you to join Him in shepherding His church.

Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation
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