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10 Articles that will Help your Church Make Vision Real

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It’s almost Christmas!!! Hope you have all of your shopping done (not likely) and I’m praying that Christmas Eve is an incredible moment at your churches and that your people take the step to invite their friends and many people “say yes” to following Jesus! Until then, let me say thanks for making November another great month here at Helping Churches Make Vision Real! It’s always good 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

This post came out of a conversation I had with a Leadership Coaching Network that I was facilitating back in 2013. So I wrote this post 4 years ago and it continues to be one of my top posts of all-time. Hope it’s helpful!

6 Lessons I’ve Learned from 6 Years of Multisite Church Leadership

Nearly 6 years ago Sun Valley Community Church (the church I have the honor of serving at) adopted a multisite strategy to deliver growth to new areas and reach new people with the Gospel. That one decision changed everything. Since that time, we’ve grown from one campus to five (with more to come) and we’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way. Some of those lessons, as you would expect, we’ve learned the hard way. Here’s a few that stand out.

10 Things that Require Zero Talent

“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” That’s a statement I talk to my son about all the time. He’s only 9 years old, but I want him to grow up to have a great work ethic and a positive attitude. I don’t expect him to be the great at everything he attempts, but I do expect him to give a great effort. There’s a lot of things he can’t control in life, but he’ll always be able to control his effort and his attitude.

3 Shifts that Growing Multisite Churches Experience

The decision to adopt a multisite strategy to deliver growth may be a decision that your church is considering. While still young as a movement, multisite is proving to be an incredibly effective strategy for growing churches to deliver growth to new “markets” and reach new people with the Gospel. However, going multisite will make things more complicated and more difficult for you as a leader and for your church.

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.

Stop Hiring People you Like

A wrong hire can set a ministry back for years and unfortunately churches aren’t known for making great hires. Pastors have a tendency to hire people that they like, and value relational chemistry over production. I get it. Pastors are taught Greek, Theology and the Bible. Seminaries aren’t known for providing great courses on recruiting, hiring and team development.

Why at Teaching Team is a better approach to Teaching at your Church

Although the idea of a teaching team is not a new idea, I’m surprised at the amount of churches across the country that have not embraced this approach to preaching in their weekend worship services.

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.

Does your Church need to Sacrifice something Sacred?

Chances are your church has some “sacred cow” ministries that have been around for a long time, have a great history, have had a great impact in the past, but are on life support now. Does your church need to sacrifice some of these sacred cows?

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.


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Stop Hiring People you Like

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A wrong hire can set a ministry back for years and unfortunately churches aren’t known for making great hires. Pastors have a tendency to hire people that they like, and value relational chemistry over production. I get it. Pastors are taught Greek, Theology and the Bible. Seminaries aren’t known for providing great courses on recruiting, hiring and team development.

So, most pastors are left to rely on their “gut” and hope for the best. They typically look for natural connections that they can build on to get “comfortable” with and “believe” in a potential hire.

Is the potential hire from the same denomination of churches? Did they go to the same seminary or school as the pastor? Do they know the same people and run in the same circles (tribe)? Did a friend recommend them? Have they read the same books or listen to the same podcasts? Do they go to the same conferences for inspiration and new ideas? Do they already know someone on staff? Do they share similar interests or grow up in the same area or region of the country?

All of these simple connections can lead pastors to emotionally and relationally zero in on a potential hire and pull the trigger to bring them on the team for all the wrong reasons.

Don’t be Afraid of Results

Culture and chemistry really matter, they should factor into your recruiting and hiring. Potential hires need to fit with your team and your church. But you’re not just hiring them for their fit, you’re hiring them to get something done. You’re hiring them to produce results. If they don’t have a proven track record of producing the kind of results you’re looking for, then pass on them, no matter how great a “fit” they may be.

Challenge the Team

A new hire is a great opportunity to infuse a whole new set of experiences, ideas, perspectives, training and competencies into the staff team at your church. When you invite a new person to your staff team they should lift the water level of the entire team up. Their approach, experience and expertise should challenge the team and motivate them to take some new ground. If there is too great a value on chemistry and relationally connecting with a potential hire then relationship will trump growth.

You’re not Hiring them to be your Friend

Listen, I completely understand wanting to “like” the people you work with and yes, I’ve read about how everybody needs a “best friend” at work. I’m fortunate enough to work at a church and on a team that I actually really, really like. But at the end of the day when you’re hiring someone you’re not hiring them to be your friend. You’re hiring them to join with you and play their part to make a big vision become real. I mean could you imagine saying to Jesus, “Hey I know we didn’t take your mission to reach everyone on the planet with the Gospel very seriously and we didn’t do a great job with that, but we really liked each other.”


Posted in Leadership, Staffing

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Is Treating People Differently the same thing as Favoritism?

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Should church leaders treat all people in their church the same way? Most people I’ve run across in church-world cringe at this kind of a question and come to the conclusion that if you don’t treat everyone the same then you end up playing favorites as a leader. What if I told you that playing favorites is exactly what good church leaders do?

People are Unique

If you really believe that each individual in your church is unique then why wouldn’t you treat them uniquely? If we follow the Apostle Paul’s assertion that the Church is the Body of Christ and each person has a unique role to play (elbow, hand, foot, etc.), then why would we treat everyone the same? Why would we expect everyone to act the same if they are created to perform different functions and produce different results?

Not everyone should Sing on Stage

This is probably the easiest example I can think of, and if you’ve been in a church for any length of time one you can probably relate to. I’m sure you’ve been to a church where there was someone on stage singing (leading worship) who simply wasn’t very gifted. They were flat or sharp. Perhaps they were awkward and uncomfortable on stage. Simply put they shouldn’t be on stage leading worship. But because most churches would rather not hurt one person’s feelings by telling them the truth (that they can’t sing very well), they keep them on stage and turn a lot of people off to Jesus.

Not everyone is a Leader

The bible describes leadership as a spiritual gift, a gift that not everyone gets, and a gift that’s given in different measure to different people. As a result, leadership by its very nature is exclusive. After all could you imagine everyone in your church trying to lead? It would be chaos. Your church should treat leaders differently. Church leaders shouldn’t invest their time developing people who don’t have a leadership gift to be someone they aren’t gifted by God to be. You can disagree with me and call it favoritism if you want to, but I would call it being a poor steward.

What about Money?

This is where things get really testy in church-world. Should church leaders treat people who have the capacity to make a significant amount of money and be generous with it differently than other people? Well if we follow this same line of thought then the answer is an obvious yes. Why is it that an entire “industry” has been built around one spiritual gift (leadership) in church world and it’s okay to make a big deal about that but we ignore people with the gift of generosity? Why is it wrong to invest in people with the gift of generosity and help develop them their gift?

I could go on…but you probably get the point.


Posted in Leadership

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6 Lessons I’ve Learned from 6 Years of Multisite Church Leadership

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Nearly 6 years ago Sun Valley Community Church (the church I have the honor of serving at) adopted a multisite strategy to deliver growth to new areas and reach new people with the Gospel. That one decision changed everything.

Since that time, we’ve grown from one campus to five (with more to come) and we’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way. Some of those lessons, as you would expect, we’ve learned the hard way. Here’s a few that stand out.

1. Starting is the Easy Part

Starting new multisite campuses is actually the easy part. Starting something new is usually exciting, attracts new people, and typically has some kind of momentum associated with it. Those are all things that make church leaders salivate. However, managing all of the complexities of inter-campus relationships, communication, decision making, reporting, influence, and building an effective central service team that serves the campuses is the more difficult part. It’s one thing to start a new multisite campus, it’s another thing all together to adopt a multisite mindset.

2. Communication is Complicated

The lines of communication can get really complicated in a multisite setting. Who needs to know what when and in what sequence are things communicated to which audience? Creating feedback loops from the campuses back to central services is key to help the central service team understand what’s working and what’s not and what the campus teams need from them to be successful. It’s also just as important to cascade communication through campus pastors to the campus teams. Add to that now you’ve got to figure out how all of the campus staff relate not only to central services but also to other campuses. As you can imagine it can get a little complicated.

3. Decision Rights can be Confusing

Knowing who makes what decision can become really confusing. When a campus begins making decisions that the central team believes they should be making or the central team makes decisions that affect every campus without fully understanding the impact at the individual campus level or getting the right campus level staff on board first, things can get tense. Clearly understanding who makes what decision and how decisions get made help dissolve the complexity of multisite.

4. Culture is King

One of the biggest questions that a church needs to answer before it goes multisite is, “Do we have a culture worth replicating?” In expanding and replicating your culture through a multisite strategy it’s not uncommon for churches to confuse policies and people. Here’s what I mean, your people (staff, leaders, volunteers, and attenders) transfer your culture to new locations. Policies, systems and structures may support your culture, they may even institutionalize it to a certain degree, but they don’t replicate it. Your people carry your culture.

5. Approach Matters

Yes, there are a lot of different ways to do multisite. There are a number of different approaches and models. But not all approaches are created equal. Some are more successful than others. For our purposes, I equate success with people saying yes to follow Jesus and life change…and I always figure more people meeting Jesus is better than less. There are some very concrete reasons why only 15% of churches that go multisite ever get past 3 campuses. There are also very concrete reasons why churches like LifeChurch.tv find so much success. Some approaches are more successful than others.

6. People Development is Difficult

The growth of your church has the potential to outpace the rate at which you can develop people. In other words, people don’t grow or develop as fast as your church, and multisite will expose that. One of the greatest challenges that multisite brings with it people development. So, as much as you may want to hire from the inside there are going to be times where you’re going to have to hire experienced talent from the outside to keep up with growth and new challenges that growth brings.


Posted in Leadership

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Why a Teaching Team is a Better Approach to Teaching at your Church

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Although the idea of a teaching team is not a new idea, I’m surprised at the amount of churches across the country that have not embraced this approach to preaching in their weekend worship services.

Don’t hear what I’m not saying:

  • I’m not advocating that you use the “main stage” to develop communicators. Don’t experiment on your church. Instead develop communicators in other ministry venues than the weekend worship services. There can’t be a big “drop off” in gifting from the primary preacher to others on the teaching team. Otherwise internally people are going to be saying, “oh no, not this guy again.”
  • I’m not advocating that you water down or muddy your unique culture. It’s not helpful to have preachers on the teaching team that have completely different styles or theological perspectives. Preaching is the primary way culture is built in a church so keep the same approach and same “voice.”
  • I’m not advocating that your main preacher speaks less than 35 weekends a year (+/-).
  • I’m not advocating that you have too many voices on stage, more than 3 can get confusing.

In today’s world communicators aren’t just compared to other preachers they’re compared to other communicators including comedians, late night show hosts, TED talks, and every other great preacher in the world that anyone can listen to on the internet. Developing a teaching team is simply a better approach to teaching.

It keeps Communicators Fresh

Preaching week in and week out, 52 weeks a year is a grind. Very, very, very few preachers on the planet can be great 52 weeks a year, year after year. A teaching team helps great preachers preach great sermons. Not only do they get time to work on their sermons and prepare better content, but they can work together on the content and delivery preparation.

It keeps Engagement Up

No matter how good of a communicator your pastor is, they only have so many stories. More voices on the stage keeps engagement up because your church body hears things different ways from different people. Also, if you do this well, you can engage a younger audience by having communicators on the team who are younger than the primary preacher.

It Teaches the Church it’s not all about One Person

Building a great teaching team teaches the church body that ministry isn’t just about or built around one superstar with a great teaching gift. Rather, the body, when it works together as a body and you lean into everyone’s unique gifting actually takes more ground and functions better. Remember, the team always outperforms the individual, this is also true in teaching teams.

It sets you up for Succession

Every pastor is an interim pastor. One day they will no longer be the leader or the preacher. Someday, somebody else will step in and pick up where you left off. A teaching team helps make this transition easier for the church to embrace.


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Staffing