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Top Posts of 2018 #10 “How the Lead Pastor and Executive Pastor Roles Work Together”

Business agreement - Senior and young male executives shaking hands at office

For the next couple of days I’m going to be counting down the top 10 posts from 2017 here on Helping Churches Make Vision Real. These are the posts that generated the most traffic, comments, and were the most shared on social media. The most popular topics this year had to do with emotionally intelligent leaders, church finances, church growth, indicators of decline, and becoming an outsider focused church.

This first post as we count down the top 10 has to do with the relationship between the Lead and Executive Pastor. I’m frequently asked how the relationship works, what a Lead Pastor should be looking for in a good XP. This post should help.

The relationship between the Lead Pastor and Executive Pastor can make or break a church staff team and has profound impact upon the overall ministry of the church. Get this right and you’ll end up getting a lot right. Get it wrong, and well, it’s going to be tough sledding.

There are some basic no brainer things that make a great Lead and Executive Pastor partnership and of course trust is at the foundation of it.

  • You can’t allow triangulation; the Lead and Executive Pastor need to stay connected and on the same page. I’d recommend a weekly touch base meeting to help solve this.
  • You can’t have a “good cop / bad cop” situation. You don’t want the staff to love the Lead Pastor and fear the Executive Pastor. Executive Pastors remember that fear doesn’t make people want to follow you. On the other side of the coin, Lead Pastors can’t delegate all of the tough decisions and execution to the Executive, the church needs your leadership not just your direction.
  • A better analogy for a healthy partnership between a Lead and Executive Pastor is more like a mom and a dad leading a family together through mutual submission to one another. Leading in their area of brilliance and submitting in their areas of weakness.
  • The Executive Pastor needs to support the Lead Pastor publicly and when needed appropriately challenge them privately.

And if you’ve ever wondered what the basic lanes are that the Lead Pastor and Executive Pastor should be running in here are 4 things that each role can’t delegate away:

There are 4 Things the Lead Pastor can’t Delegate

  1. Leadership
  2. Teaching
  3. Vision
  4. Culture

There are 4 Things the Executive Pastor can’t Delegate

  1. Strategy
  2. Execution
  3. Leading the Sr. Leadership Team
  4. Daily Train, Develop & Coach the Culture

Posted in Leadership

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5 Mistakes Experienced Church Leaders Make

mistake

Experienced Church Leaders don’t mean to do it. Being complacent. Making mistakes. It “just happens” we tell ourselves. But does it have to happen? Not really.

After spending more than 22 years in full-time ministry this “experienced” Church Leader has committed every mistake on the list. We can chalk it up to complacency, over confidence, or a complete and utter lack of awareness. I know, you’re probably thinking…aren’t you a “successful” Church Leader and ministry consultant? Aren’t you supposed to stay on top of this stuff? Aren’t you supposed to lead without making mistakes? I wish it were that simple. I’m human. I make mistakes. Hopefully I can help you by sharing my blunders.

But what exactly is an experienced Church Leader? I’m sure you’ll answer that in your own way. If you’re reading this blog post, I’m betting the majority of you think you’re an experienced Church Leader. Or maybe you’re someone well on their way to becoming an experienced Church Leader who wants to avoid the blunders of us veterans. I commend your proactive efforts. So, let’s just agree that the term experienced Church Leader applies to all of us.

1. Moving too Fast

If you know me, you know that I love progress and results. In fact, I can be tempted to choose accomplishing the mission over people, even though people are the mission (weird huh). I’ve gotten myself into trouble a couple of times by moving too fast and leaving people in the dust or even worse mowing over people in the way. Both are bad. Yes, people are dying and going to hell, and someone has to do something about it…like right now…and that someone is you and me. But I’ve often underestimated what I can get done over the long haul and overestimated what I can get done this week.

2. Holding on too Long

Control is the enemy of growth, period. It’s the enemy of personal growth, professional growth, organizational growth as well as the growth of the Church and the spread of the Gospel. I’ve held onto things too long and told myself that others wouldn’t do it the way I wanted it done or as well as I could do it. Frankly I was wrong. The dirty little secret of Church Leadership that no one ever tells you is the higher you go in leadership the more you actually have to let go of and give away. If you don’t learn to let go, you will become the lid on the growth of the church.

3. Shifting Blame

Accepting personal responsibility is the first step that we take when it comes to real growth. This idea of “walking in the light” that the Bible talks about is the greatest personal and leadership challenge I believe we’ll ever face…and we’ll face it over and over and over again. I’ve been guilty of judging myself based on my intent and motivation and others by their performance. I’ve learned over time that blame goes up and praise goes down. Good leaders push praise down onto others and accept responsibility and blame for things that go wrong in the organization because ultimately, they’re in charge and have the power to change things.

4. Underestimating People

Have you ever underestimated someone? I have. More than once actually. I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve underestimated what a volunteer can do as a volunteer. I mean there are fantastic, high capacity people in our churches that get paid a significant amount of money to do a job that they’re really good at and we cast the big vision to them of holding a door at church on the Guest Services Team. Ugh. We need to think differently. I’ve even underestimated young staff members. I forget how young I was once. I was 32 years old when I became an Executive Pastor at a church that was 2,500+…so yeah…start believing people and start giving them authority and space to lead. They might surprise you.

5. Trusting People Instead of their Performance

I’ve ignored people and refused to believe the truth about people. Even when they tell me who they are through their performance. I’ve chosen to trust and view them through relational trust that had been built up over time (friendship) instead of listening to them when their performance tells me over and over that they aren’t gifted to do a certain job, that their capacity isn’t as high as I thought, or that the job had outgrown them. Every time I’ve done that I’ve been guilty of hurting and holding the church back.

And that’s the list. It isn’t a list of ALL the mistakes experienced Church Leaders make, but they’re at the core of most of my leadership failures. Even though the list is short, there’s a lot of lessons that can be learned from my mistakes.


Posted in Leadership

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4 Big Reasons Why Church Teams Win or Lose

finishline

Not all church staff teams are created equal. Not only are different people gifted differently, but they’re gifted with a different measure or capacity of each gift they have. Some teams are built skillfully and intentionally to reach a particular vision while others are a collection of talented people, others still end up being a gathering of players that may love Jesus a lot and are good at caring for His Church but may not be put together and assembled to win. And friends, make no mistake about it, we are in a high stakes game where there are winners and losers and eternity hangs in the balance. There’s too much at stake to take a passive care taker approach to “church.” There are a lot of reasons why teams win or lose, but there are four reasons that consistently stand out when it comes to church staff teams.

Ability and Gifting

Spiritual gifts are given by God through the Holy Spirit. Abilities and skills however can be taught. For example, the Bible describes leadership as a spiritual gift, however anyone can learn and develop leadership skills. However, no amount of training can make up for a lack of gifting. Great teams are built with people who are gifted by Jesus and then work to develop those gifts.

Strategy

Strategy answers the question, “How are we going to accomplish the vision?” Great churches don’t just have big dreams and catchy vision phrases, they have a clear strategy to accomplish that vision. They know how they’re going to get it done…and they do.

Mentality

How does the church think? What is the mindset of the staff team? Are they aggressive problem solvers or do they default to taking care of and protecting what Jesus has entrusted to them. Do they leave the 99 to go after the 1?

Culture

Culture is that squishy stuff in a church that’s hard to get your hands around and define. It’s reflected in the language of the church, the way people who are a part of the church dress, the filter they use to make decisions and so on. Culture can be defined as the sum total of the attitude, values and behaviors of a church. Culture trumps intention, ideas or plans because it becomes the gravitational pull of the church.

Average teams excel in 1-2 areas.
Great teams excel in 2-3 areas.
Championship teams excel in 3-4 areas.

What kind of team are you building? What kind of team are you on?


Posted in Leadership, Staffing

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Are you more concerned about your Bible Study or your Neighbor?

bible

I’ve mentioned before that at Sun Valley (the church I have the privilege of serving at) we routinely gather the staff from all of our campuses together for a time of worship, celebration, communication, training…and of course a good meal. Recently we had the opportunity to spend some time with Dale Peterson who serves as the Executive Director of the Eagle Brook Association. Here are some of my notes from the conversation.

  • The demand for people to know Christ is greater than our current capacity…so what are we going to do?
  • Acts 2:
    • The first church was a megachurch
    • They grew numerically daily
    • Will you be a church where people follow Jesus and a church that I can actually invite my friends to
      • People don’t invite people to things that are average
      • You can’t hire average people because average people get average results
    • Spend time with God
      • If you know God’s heart you’ll make decisions based on God’s heart for people
    • Connect in Community
    • Serve Others out of our giftedness
    • Life Generously
  • BUT what the church wants:
    • Bible study and that’s not bad, unless it stops there
    • Fellowship with people that look and act like us
    • Help out (out of guilt)
    • Give 2.5% of their income to make sure their favorite ministry programs happen and the pastor gets a paycheck so we can keep the doors open
    • 80% of churches in America are plateaued or declining and see 1 conversion a year
    • 3,500 churches in America die every year…last year was the first year church planters kept up with the death rate so it was a zero sum game
    • And there are more people on earth than ever before…the harvest is greater than it’s ever been
    • Passion alone is not enough to motivate the church to go and reach people for Jesus
    • Most Christians are more worried about their bible study than their neighbor
    • Most Christians are sitting around praying and waiting for God to do something at their church…and He did 2,000 years ago…stop praying and do something
    • Most people in ministry are relegated to zookeepers…they feed the church and clean up after it…but the church has nothing to offer outsiders
    • People drive by the church and never think the church has anything to offer them
    • Vision statements don’t change the church
    • Churches that get it done build the right kind of culture
  • Building a vision culture
    • Beliefs: foundational beliefs, what we’re wiling to die for…just a couple (let’s not be willing to die for everything) there’s things we’re willing to die for, there’s things we’ll defend, and there’s things we’ll discuss
    • Values: (beliefs and values answer the question of who are we) – these are the desired behaviors that we’d like the whole church to act like…then we create ministry programs that produce the behaviors that we value most
    • Purpose: Why…Reunited in relationship with the Father (lost people are what Jesus cares about) Matt. 22
    • Mission: What we do…Matt. 28 (reach)…the front door into the church
    • Strategy: How we do it here (is this still working?…and how do you know?)
    • Goals: tell you where you’re going and when you’ll get there
  • How can 3,500 churches die every year while doing their bible studies when there are 7billion people on the planet

Posted in Leadership

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The Principles & Practices That Can Help You Lead an Unstuck Church

Last spring, we released our first ever online course. Ultimately, we felt like pastors were facing ministry challenges they weren’t prepared to address. So, we wanted to create a convenient resource to equip you to win.

We’ve loved getting to serve the community of leaders taking this course together, and we’re excited to announce that Fall 2018 enrollment for the Leading an Unstuck Church Course is now open!

We want to invite you to be a part of this experience.

Addressing 12 core issues where churches get most often get stuck, the Leading An Unstuck Church Course walks you through how to staff for growth, how to develop more leaders, how to establish healthier finances, how to enhance your weekend services and eight more essential lessons to help you lead an unstuck church.

This course will help you take your next steps as a leader by removing barriers to growth and giving you confidence to tackle these challenges as your face them.

Here’s a quick snapshot of what you’ll get with the course:

  • Access to Tony Morgan and our consulting team to coach you and answer your questions as you work through each lesson
  • 12 practical online lessons and training videos  to help you take your next steps
  • Discussion guides to lead conversations with your team
  • Specific next step action items for you to put what you learn into practice
  • Access to a private Facebook group with live Q&A events hosted by Tony

Check out the details and the FAQ’s for info on how to enroll.

Whether you lead a large church, a small church or somewhere in between, this course will equip you with biblical wisdom and practical know-how to lead your church towards sustained health.

Join our community of leaders to help navigate this journey.


Posted in Leadership
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