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Are You the Type of Person that can Work at a Fast-Growing Church?

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Not everyone gets to work at a fast-growing church. Yes, I know a list comes out every year that identifies America’s top 100 fastest growing churches and there’s a lot of staff members represented in those top 100 churches. But in context to the more than 400,000 churches in America that’s a pretty small percentage of church staff members.

In fact, most people in ministry will go their entire ministry career and not get the opportunity to be a part of a fast-growing church. That’s one reason, by the way, if you’re serving at a fast-growing church you should thank Jesus, soak it in, and enjoy it while you can. You’re sitting in a seat that few will ever get to.

There are all kinds of contributing factors to a church going through a period of fast growth, and at the top of the list is the Holy Spirit. In today’s booming market of church leadership and church growth strategy we would be making a mistake not to give credit where it is due. Jesus said He would be the one to build His Church.

That being said, I’ve had the unique blessing of serving at 3 very fast-growing churches. One went from 1,000 to more than 3,000, another went from 2,500 to 6,000 and the church I currently serve at I’ve had a front row seat to see it grow from 3,000 to 8,000.

While there are a lot of factors that contributed to those seasons of incredible growth one of the things I’ve observed in all of them is that the staff that work at fast-growing churches are different. Here’s what I mean…

1. Agile

They’re able to adapt to changing circumstances quickly and they don’t mind changing directions on projects. They become, “masters of midcourse corrections.” They love being on the team and they’re willing play different roles at different times based on what’s needed for the team to win. Ambiguity doesn’t bother them all that much because they trust and believe in the team and they know that together they’ll, “figure it out.”

2. Sober minded

They are self-aware enough to know what they’re good at and they play to their strengths and they play their part on the team. They’re also humble enough to do what’s best for the church and not for themselves or their career. They’re willing to change roles or have someone hired in over top of them so they don’t become the lid to growth.

3. Low Control

In a fast-growing church, you can’t have a staff member that is high control. There’s not time or bandwidth for micromanagement or perfectionism. In a fast-growing church, high control prevents you from generating new ideas and getting those ideas implemented and keeping up with the pace of growth because by the time the idea or new “product” is good enough to release you’ve missed the opportunity. Remember, the Gospel wasn’t meant to be controlled but unleashed.

4. Solution Oriented

Instead of focusing on problems and the past they’re focused on solutions and the future. Instead of talking to their supervisors about all of the reasons they can’t do something they’re bringing ideas of all the things they could do. They’re not as concerned about constraints as they are about what must be figured out. While there may be a lack of resources these team members are resourceful and they find a way.

5. Resilient

These church staff members have an unusually high pain tolerance. They’re typically leading through change and with change comes criticism. They know how to listen to the right people and ignore the rest. They’re laser focused on the vision of where they’re going and they’re willing to endure pain to get there, because it’s worth it to them.

6. Approach to Credit

These church staff members would rather the team win than worry about if they get any of the credit for it. They’re quick to accept responsibility and take credit when things go poorly and they’re equally quick to give away credit to others when they go well.

I’m sure there’s some characteristics that I’ve missed. If you’ve served in a fast-growing church what are some characteristics of the team members that made them different than other teams you’ve served on? Leave a comment!


Posted in Leadership, Staffing

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Top Posts of 2017 #3 “5 Things that make Good Church Staff Member Leave your Church”

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We’re now into the top 3 posts from 2017 and it’s no surprise that topic of building and keeping the right team comes in at number 3.

Good Church Staff Members leave churches for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes it’s because God has called them to something different. But more often than not it’s because of something very different.

1. You Stop Listening to Them

When you don’t listen to people they stop talking. And when you stop listening to good staff members they’ll go somewhere else where they feel heard.

2. They Don’t Feel Empowered

Nothing is worse than having responsibility for something with no authority to do anything about it. When you don’t empower staff members to make real decisions they’ll go somewhere they can.

3. An Unhealthy Staff Culture

Good team members don’t stay around on unhealthy teams very long. One of the best ways to attract and keep great team members is to build a health staff culture.

4. Lack of Vision

If you can’t provide clarity to your team about where you’re going next they’ll eventually grow frustrated, leave, and find that clarity somewhere else. And the irony is that those who have the greatest propensity to lead into the future will leave first.

5. Poor Strategy

If your team has a tendency to talk about ideas but has a difficult time executing them you probably don’t have a actionable strategy in place to move you toward a clear vision. Good Church Staff members don’t just want to talk about ideas, they want to execute them. If you can’t help them do that they’ll go somewhere else they can.

What are some other reasons you’ve see good Church Staff Members leave a church? Leave a comment.


Posted in Staffing

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Top Posts of 2017 #4 “Stop Hiring People to Work at your Church”

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I just wrote this post back in October and it jumped up the Top-10 chart quickly! It addresses one of the most significant and common lids to growth that churches experience.

Churches love to hire people. I mean they really love to hire people. Often times when churches are just starting off, staff members will raise their own salary until the church has the capacity to pay them. Then as they grow I’ve seen churches long for the day where the budget grows just a little bit more so they can make that next hire. They put so much hope into staffing. Many think that if they could just add one more special staff position to the team, the church would grow.

Now before we get too far into this conversation, let me just say that I’m not against churches hiring staff members. I’m just against churches hiring as many staff members as they do.

You see the average church in America has somewhere around a 1:75 staffing ratio. That means for every 75 people they have attending the church there is 1 full-time equivalent staff member being paid to work at the church. A full-time equivalent may be made up of 2 – 20 hour a week employees, 4 – 10 hour a week employees, or any combination you can think of. At the Unstuck Group when we help churches build a Staffing and Structure plan for the future, we encourage churches to staff at 1:100. By the way, do you know where you church measures up on that ratio?

Why Staff Lean?

One of the many reasons why we encourage churches to staff with this approach is because the churches across America that are reaching the most amount of people with the Gospel and are seeing the most amount of life change are leaner with their approach to staffing. They’re putting resources into reaching people, ministry, and developing people instead of into salaries. They pay fewer people more so they can attract and keep great people.

The More Staff the Less Life-Change

When churches staff at a lower ratio they unintentionally keep people from following Jesus. When people are hired that means what was previously being done by volunteers is now being professionalized. This takes the ministry out of the hands of volunteers and actually often times discourages volunteerism. Volunteering is discipleship. You can’t follow Jesus and not serve others.

More Staff is an indicator of Over Programming

A low attender to staff ratio is also an indicator that a church is probably over-programmed. The staff are busy running a lot of programs to minister to people who are already a part of the church and already know Jesus. 

It’s Easier to Hire than Develop

It’s faster and requires less effort to hire people to do ministry than to recruit, train, and develop volunteers to do ministry.

It’s more Convenient to be Served than to Serve

It’s easier for church members to pay to hire people to serve them than to invest the time into stepping up and serving others.

I could go on and on, but I bet you get the point. Hiring isn’t always the wrong move to make at a church. But if you do hire, hire for two big results:

  1. Hire people who can build teams and develop people
  2. Hire specialists because of a needed skill

Posted in Leadership, Staffing

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Top Posts of 2017 #6 “6 Keys to Motivating Millennial Church Leaders”

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As I already mentioned in this countdown, millennials were a popular topic on my blog this year. This is the second post in this year’s countdown that had to do with millennial church leaders.

If you have any millennials on your church staff you know that they’re different. And while many traditional church leaders are quick to equate a different approach with being a wrong approach, wise leaders know that different just means different. Not necessary wrong. In fact it could even be better. Millennials can, will, and are doing some amazing ministry. Like it or not they are coming into their own in church leadership, and they’re the ones that are going to lead the church forward. So instead of complaining about them we might as well help them. Try these 6 approaches to motivate the millennial leaders on your church staff.

1. Help me Avoid Boredom

Millennials have grown up with the constant interruption of smart phones and sound bites. This has conditioned them to be great at multitasking. So don’t expect them to sit down and work the way you did with tremendous focus on one thing for an extended period of time. Help them avoid that monotony and dabble with multiple things at one time. They’ll have more fun and produce more results.

2. Help me Join a Cause

Everyone knows that millennials are cause oriented. But what most churches haven’t come to grips with yet is that one of the key reasons so many millennials are leaving the church is they don’t view the church as a cause worth giving their life to. Is your church an institution or a movement? Have you turned the Gospel into something to be dissected and intellectually understood or something that is powerful and mysterious? Help them see the church as a cause worth giving their life to.

3. Help me Manage my Heart

Feelings are more important than facts to millennials. While it might not make sense to some previous generations they think more with their heart than their head. That’s not to say they aren’t brilliant it’s just to say their motivation is more centered around the question, “Does this feel right?” Church leaders can help millennials by increasing their emotional intelligence and being more thoughtful about how their actions may be perceived and how they may affect the feelings of others rather than just give way to simple facts and plans.

4. Help me See the Win

Millennials have grown up in a world of instant gratification, access, and results. Anybody who has been in ministry for any length of time knows that’s not how it really works. Life just doesn’t work that way. So we’ve got to help celebrate the small wins of life change that happen along the way. Help them celebrate the first downs along the way and help them make the connection between their day-to-day ministry and the vision.

5. Help me be True to Myself

Millennials aren’t going to follow someone or be a part of something that feels inauthentic to them. The best gift that church leaders can give millennials is to exercise real leadership and stop leading through position, title, or power and learn to lead with humility and personhood. They won’t simply respect you for your position but instead for who you are and the value you add. In this way millennials are a gift to challenge many church leaders to lead in a way that they may have forgotten.

6. Help me Understand “Why”

In recent years Simon Sinek made the phrase, “start with why” famous. Millennials don’t just want to know your plan. They don’t want to simply know what you want them to do, they want to know the why behind it. They need to buy into the reason behind the plan of action. Help them buy into the why.


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Staffing

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Top Posts of 2017 #8 “When to Invest in a Young Leader and when to Ignore them”

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A lot of people in church world are trying to figure out millennials. How do reach them, motivate them, develop them, and of course how do we hand of leadership of the Church to them? So it’s no surprise that this topic was a popular one on my blog this year.

Like it or not, millennials are making their way into leadership roles in churches across America. As they take their newfound place in church leadership many of them are looking for someone to invest in them and help develop them as young emerging leaders.

Experienced leaders are always going to have more opportunities available to say yes to than capacity to meet them. This is true in leadership and this is true in developing young talent. You have to make a choice. So, choose wisely. How do you know who to invest in and who to ignore?

Young, naïve, and inexperienced talent doesn’t bother me. But young talent that is void of the following four intangibles scares me to death.

Talent

Skills can be trained but talent is developed. Talent is something you have or you don’t have. It’s something you’re born with or is gifted to you by the Holy Spirit. You get the gifts you’re given. For instance, if someone has been given the spiritual gift of leadership, it can be developed and that art can be perfected over time through study and practice. Others without the spiritual gift of leadership may learn leadership skills but they’ll never have the talent to lead at the same level as someone with a leadership gift. I’m looking for young leaders who are very talented.

Capacity

In a world where everyone gets a participation trophy and kids are taught that they can do anything and be anything they want to be in life; what I’m about to say isn’t going to be very popular. But it will be true. While different people may have similar talents, they may have different capacities. The Bible is clear that while many people may get similar or even the same gifts, that they are given in different measure. So, no you can’t be anything you want to be, but you can be the best you that you’re designed to be. That being said, I’m looking for young leaders who have a high capacity.

Teachable

In the book of James, he Bible teaches us that “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.”  You can’t give something to someone who doesn’t want to or isn’t ready to receive it. (both matter by the way). You can’t teach someone who isn’t teachable. I’m looking for young leaders who demonstrate a teachable spirit.

Effort

It’s okay for a young leader not to have an answer, but it’s not okay for that same young leader to not go find the answer. It’s okay for a young leader to fail and not get everything right the first time. It’s not okay for a young leader to not try as hard as they possibly can to succeed. I’m looking for young leaders who demonstrate tremendous effort.


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Staffing
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