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See you After Sabbatical!

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There are a lot of reasons that I love working at Sun Valley Community Church. It’s the best staff culture I’ve ever experienced on a church staff team, every week there are incredible stories of life change, over the past 6 years we’ve opened 4 new locations and there have literally been 1,000’s of people baptized. It’s a really special place to be a part of.

It’s also a place that values and takes care of the staff team. In fact, after 7 years, full-time Director level staff (and up) qualify for a paid sabbatical. It’s a great way to invest in, value, reward, and incentivize longevity with our team. Each person builds a written plan and budget that focus on three key areas that are submitted for approval.

Professional Development

Key Question: What are you going to do to invest in your career?
What skills, training, or development do you need in order to get better at your craft? Is there a class you need to take, a church or organization you need to visit to learn from, or some kind of process certification you need to complete that will resource you to improve your professional capacity?

Personal Development

Key Question: What are you going to do to invest in yourself?
What about you? It’s a question most people in ministry rarely ask. Ministry Staff Members typically spend the majority of their time and energy serving other people. What do you need to do for you that brings you energy? I don’t mean just sitting on the couch vegging out and watching Netflix but doing something that fills you up.

Family Development

Key Question: What are you going to do to invest in your family?
Why don’t you ditch the kids over sabbatical and go do something with just you and your spouse? But then again, plan something with just the kids too, you’ve got the time. What kind of experiences and memories do you want to build with your family?

Over the summer I’ve got a plan to do all three of these things, and I’m grateful to serve at a church that values their staff in this way. So, at the risk of not being very consistent here at Helping Churches Make Vision Real or on social media you’re going to notice that I’ll be around a lot less this summer on these digital platforms. So, I’ll see you after sabbatical!


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation

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10 Articles that will Help your Church Make Vision Real

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Each month I curate the top 10 most popular blog posts I’ve shared recently. These are the articles that got had the greatest engagement in the past month. They were the most visited, shared, helpful or disagreed with. At any rate, thanks for staying in contact with me through engaging in the content on this site, I hope it’s been helpful to you! In case you missed any of them here they are all in one nice tidy place for you!

10 Insider Focused Ministry Names

I wrote this post 5 years ago. It came out of a conversation that I had with a Leadership Coaching Group I was facilitating for Church Staff and it’s remained a fan favorite.

How Many People should your Church have on Staff?

It’s a big question that most churches are asking. The answer may surprise you.

18 Churchy Things the Class of 2018 Won’t Get

A friend of mine at the Unstuck Group wrote this post, and it’s great! This spring’s high school graduates were born in the year 2000. Here are some churchy things for which they have little to no context for…

What is a Campus Pastor?

A lot of churches are still trying to get their hands around this new role in the modern church. This post will help.

5 Ways Successful Church Leaders Think Differently 

Successful church leaders naturally think differently than the majority of church leaders. It’s one of the things that set them apart. The good news is you can learn to think just like them.

20 Helpful Metrics for Measuring Church Health

You can actually measure church health and this report will help you!

The Rules of Innovation

Innovation doesn’t just happen. To much structure will kill it…but surprisingly too much freedom will to! This post will help your church become more innovative.

Why Following Jesus is all Backwards 

Following Jesus is weird. It doesn’t make sense. Anyone who tells you different is lying to you or selling something.

The Difference between a Shepherd and a Leader

I love helping churches and leaders get unstuck and make vision real. In fact out of all the stuff I get to do with churches and leaders one of the things I enjoy the most is Leadership Coaching. Recently I had the incredible opportunity to spend a day coaching a group of Pastors and Church Leaders from Australia (unfortunately their cool accent didn’t rub off). One of the topics we spent time digging into was the difference between shepherding and leading in relation to why some churches are stuck while others move forward. Here are couple of thoughts from the conversation.

The Difference between Preparation and Planning

Do great organizations prepare for the future or do they plan for it? The answer is, “yes.” To be clear preparation and planning are not the same thing, and great organizations become great by doing both.


Posted in Leadership

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Do you Care more about the Strategy or the Results?

If you’ve ever been a part of a fast-growing church, you know what chaos feels like. New people are showing up every week and space can quickly become an issue. You’re making adjustments on the fly, sometimes weekly. Finding room for kids, adding new worship service times, figuring out where you’re going to park everyone, on-boarding new staff members…searching for new staff members. It can feel a bit hectic to put it mildly. It’s exciting, it’s fun, but sometimes for those people who are strategy and structure oriented it can feel a bit out of control.

In seasons like these eventually someone comes along and says something like, “We can’t keep operating like we’ve been operating. It’s time to change and take a more strategic approach.” It’s usually someone from the Board, the Pastor, or a trusted senior level Staff Member. But eventually someone will say something like; “We need to stop living on momentum and start building a strategy to get us to the future.”

This is where things can go south, quick. While various strategies, structures, systems, and processes can be helpful; they’re not the goal, they’re not the reason. Here’s a quick refresher…

Mission answers the question: “Why do we exist?”
Vision answers the question: “Where are we going?”
Strategy answers the question: “How are we going to get there?”

The reason (mission) why Jesus put the Church on the planet is to reach people (all people) with the Gospel.

I appreciate strategically minded people in the Church, heck, I am one. And I think the Church is at a deficit when it comes to these kinds of people. But I’ve also seen people like me in the name of strategy and structure squelch growth and results instead of fueling them.

Mike Tyson, who was a great boxer (or puncher) in his day and among other things bit part of Evander Holyfield’s ear off in the ring, said that, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” That statement is a spin-off of an old military principle that states. “No plan survives contact with the enemy.”

In other words, people who win chase results more than they chase strategy. That’s not to say that they’re not strategic, it’s just that they are willing to adapt their strategy to fit the current situation.

Is your church winning? Are you experiencing great results? If not, it may be time to adapt your strategy. If you need help I’d recommend connecting with the Unstuck Group. There’s not a better Church Consulting Firm you could employ to help you get from where you are to where Jesus wants you to be. It’s what we do.


Posted in Leadership

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Leading an Unstuck Church Online Course

The last few years at the Unstuck Group we’ve served 100’s of churches and over that time we’ve been tracking the “Core Issues” that emerge during strategic planning—the things teams identify as the reasons they felt stuck.

There were 12 common challenges that kept coming up over and over again—things like finding the best ways to close the “back door,”  building a plan to develop more leadersincreasing volunteer engagementstaffing for growth, etc.

We started thinking, “We need to create something to equip more church leaders to win in these areas.”

So, we’ve been writing and shooting video and creating an online space for church leaders to learn and process next steps around those core issues together.

We’re calling it the Leading an Unstuck Church Course, and it’s available now!

This new resource, the Leading an Unstuck Church Course, challenges you with lessons, exercises and discussion that will grow your ability to lead an unstuck church. Whether you lead a large church, a small church or somewhere in between, my friend Tony Morgan equips you with biblical wisdom and practical know-how to lead your church towards sustained health.

Through this course you will gain the ability to help your church:

  • Find clarity around mission, vision, values and strategy
  • Discover practical ways to enhance the weekend services
  • Build a plan to develop more leaders
  • Learn to build teams & increase volunteer engagement
  • Learn how to staff for growth
  • Improve communications both internally and externally
  • Learn how to establish healthier finances
  • And more

That’s just a sample. Learn about all 12 lessons and enroll by clicking this link. The Leading an Unstuck Church Course will only be open for enrollment for a few weeks, since we want to keep the group small so we can engage personally and facilitate a strong community. We hope to see you there!


Posted in Leadership, Staffing

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The Rules of Innovation

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One of the best ways to learn as a church leader is to get outside of the “church-world” and learn from other industries. That kind of exposure challenges your thinking in new ways. It exposes you to different problems that you aren’t facing as well as new solutions that churches aren’t even thinking about.

The other day I had the opportunity to learn from a friend of mine who works in a different industry than the church I serve in. He works for a fast growing, global, world class company that’s known for innovation.

As I listened to him describe his company’s approach to innovation there we some core concepts that were counter intuitive that really stood out to me.

First…Master the Standard

You don’t have the right to innovate until you’ve mastered the existing standard, because otherwise you degrade the standard. In order to innovate you have to begin with a baseline standard. That starting point allows you to begin to improve things, be creative and innovate. In a church you may have a standard way of doing things like checking in kids, new families, or following up on guests. You may have standard expectations in regard to the quality of the worship band, lighting, sound or even the percentage of attenders in a group or engaged in a volunteer team. Innovation in those instances would mean mastering the standard, whatever that is, and then trying new things to improve upon it.

Hyper Standardization AND a Free for All are both Bad for Innovation

Both over standardization and a wild west, no holds barred approach squelch innovation. Innovation for the sake of innovation is a waste of time. There’s plenty of opportunity to innovate against a problem. The best innovations are always for the sake of guests or customers and make things simpler not more complicated.

How it Really Works: 

1. Communicate BEFORE you Innovate
Before you start improving upon the standard always communicate up to your direct report. No boss likes to be surprised and you may find that your boss has different priorities for your time than what you want to innovate.

2. Define the Period of Time that you’ll Run the Test
Be clear about how long you’re going to test this new innovative idea as well as the potential scope of impact.

3. Evaluate Real Results
Conduct an autopsy on the test you ran. What were the net results? Look at both the data and the anecdotes. If it’s not significantly better than the standard, then ditch the idea…it’s not worth chasing.

4. Preserve what Worked and Pivot away from what didn’t
Simply put, have the courage to turn away from ideas that didn’t work, even if you liked the idea, even if it was a good idea. If it didn’t work, then don’t waste your time working it. Preserve what did work significantly better and either work to implement it everywhere or continue to improve upon it.


Posted in Leadership
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