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Why Knowledge isn’t the Key to Team Leadership

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You don’t have to be the best at everything to lead the best team. I’ve seen church leaders of the past lead based on titles, having the most experience and knowing the most on the team, having the right answers, and being an expert authority. Church leadership is changing, and I think it’s changing for the better. Church leadership of the future is based on the leader’s ability to build the right kind of team culture that attracts high capacity team members. It takes humility, trust and the ability to give leadership away, not just keep it to yourself and tell everyone what to do.

If you have to know everything or be the one with the greatest expert knowledge on the team then eventually you will become the lid to growth.

While you don’t have to know everything, if you’re the leader you still need to be able to provide your team with the following 4 keys that unlock team success.

Clarity

Great leaders provide clarity to the team so that everyone knows where they’re going and what the objective and deliverables are. Clarity and pace are directly linked to one another. The greater the clarity the faster the team can move.

Resources

It’s really difficult to do a job without the right tools. Great leaders give their teams the tools, time and resources needed for them to succeed at their jobs.

Alignment

Great church leaders provide alignment for their teams. They coordinate all of the individual working pieces of the team into one direction. They have the ability to focus the finances, staff, volunteer teams, ministry calendar, communications, weekend services, and the discipleship pathway to move the entire church in one direction.

Care

In church-world our work is unique. It’s not about the bottom line or shareholder value. It’s about life-change. It’s distinctly spiritual work. Great church leaders understand this and they care for their teams along the way. They invest in them, they don’t just use them to get stuff done.


Posted in Staffing

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How do you know when it’s time to Leave your Church?

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Most people don’t stay at one place of employment their entire lives. If you work at a church, chances are you probably won’t work at that church the rest of your life. Most likely at some point you’re going to leave to go and start or work at another church.

There are all kinds of reasons why church staff leave the church they work at to go work another church. Some of those reasons are solid and make a lot of sense. Some of them as you could guess, not so much.

If you’re a church staff member and you’re trying to figure out if you should stay or if it’s time to go, here are a couple of principles you should keep in mind.

God’s Direction

I’ve said this many times before both in writing blog posts on staffing and personally 1-on-1 to church staff members. If you know God is calling you to something else, then that’s a great reason to leave a church. But you better be pretty sure that it was God you heard talking and not the pizza you had at 2:00am before you start waving around the, “it’s God will,” card.

You’re Asked to Leave

If you’re asked to leave your church staff job for whatever reason from downsizing, restructuring, poor fit, or poor performance you can be pretty sure that’s a good reason to leave a church.

Ongoing Conflict

It’s difficult to give your all to a church and be “all-in” when you don’t get along with the people you work with. Just because it’s a church doesn’t mean every personality will be able to work with every other personality. I’ve seen some staff stay too long at a church in an effort to “live at peace with all men,” thinking they’re ungodly if they can’t figure out how to work with everyone. It’s probably naïve to think you’ll be able to get along with everyone or work for anyone. It’s important to remember that relational and cultural chemistry matters.

Opportunity

Sometimes I’ve seen staff leave their current church because they’ve grown and they’re ready for a new challenge or greater responsibility, but their current church is unable to provide that challenge or opportunity.

Don’t Respect the Leadership

If you don’t respect the leader you’re serving under and you can’t, in good conscience, submit to their authority then it’s time to leave.

Don’t Agree with the Vision

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had this conversation. Someone (usually in a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th chair role) thinks that God has called them to speak for the Lord and help their poor Lead Pastor understand that it is time for the vision to change because they don’t agree with it. And they are just the person who has come down off of the mountain with the new blueprint for where the church should go next. Or on the other hand the vision is so unclear that people have a hard time understanding how to define success in their job, which leads to frustration, which leads to burnout. Either route you take you end up with a lot of frustration and an eventual job change.

The first two reasons (God’s direction and you’re asked to leave) are super clear and no brainer indicators that’s it’s time to go. The other four are not as easy to figure out. They can be indicators that it’s time to go or they can be excuses that you make to yourself that it’s time to go. You have to discern which it is.


Posted in Leadership, Staffing

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What makes a Great Executive Pastor Great?

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When I was starting out in full-time ministry more than twenty years ago if you had told me that I would one day serve as an Executive Pastor of a multi-mega church I would have asked you, “What’s that?”

More and more I’m running into young church leaders that aspire to be an Executive Pastor and I’m fielding more and more questions about what young leaders can do to prepare for the role. With that in mind, while this is not an exhaustive list, here are a couple of recommendations I’d make to any young church leader who thinks they may serve as an Executive Pastor (XP) one day.

1. Sober-mindedness

Understand who you are, come to terms with who you are, and then be who you are. It’s not uncommon for young church leaders to think big and want something bigger than they’re able to handle sooner than they’re ready for it. It takes a deep well of experience built over time to serve well in the XP role, not just talent.

2. Submission to Authority

In Matthew 8:5-13 the Roman Centurion demonstrates an incredible XP mindset (seriously click the link and read it). He understands what it’s like to be in authority so he has no problem submitting to authority. Great XP’s submit to the authority of the Lead Pastor. They challenge appropriately, they lead up and ultimately understand what it means to both be in authority and under authority at the same time.

3. Recruit, Place & Develop People

The church is ultimately about people development. The theological term is sanctification, the every day church term is discipleship. Whatever label you want to put on it great Executive Pastors are great at recruiting the right people, putting them in the right seat to succeed and developing them.

4. Organizational Alignment

The best XP’s I’ve ever been around have an uncanny sense of alignment. They’re playing chess not checkers. They’re constantly working and reworking the organizational alignment (staff, finances, facilities, communication, and ministries) of the church so it doesn’t become a lid to growth.

5. Fill the Gap between Vision and Reality

Great Executive Pastors fill the gap between vision and reality. In other words, they’re strategic in nature. They think “how” are we going to get “there”? But they’re not negative about that “how.” They’re solution oriented.

6. Get Theological and Business Training

It takes a heart for theology and a head for business to be a great XP. If you’ve got more of a business background then get some solid theological training. If you got a theological background then go get your MBA.

 7.The Church isn’t a Business

The Church isn’t a business. It has a clear mission from Jesus about why it exists, the best ones have clear vision regarding where they’re going, and they have strategies to align staff and other resources around. There are a lot of things that “smell” like a business in the church (after all the book of Proverbs in the Bible too), but it’s not a business. The church is the Body of Christ, it’s the family of God. The goal is not to make shareholders happy by having a strong bottom line, it’s life change.


Posted in Staffing

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Stop Hiring People to Work at your Church

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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 Staffing

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A Sneaky way to Change the Culture of your Church Staff Team

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The church staff at Sun Valley Community Church (the church I have the pleasure of serving at) just did something really unique. It wasn’t complicated or particularly flashy and it didn’t make a big public impact on the church. In fact the church body doesn’t really even know about it. But I believe it will have a tremendous influence on the trajectory of the church.

Due to our unique location being in the southwest, we were able to pile up our church staff in a convoy of vans and drive across the border to Mexico to spend a day serving with one of our ministry partners.

Like I said…not particularly flashy…but how many churches do you know of who take the time and pay for all of their staff to do a 2-day mission trip to Mexico? It’s a simple thing that I believe can make a really big difference…and here’s a couple of reasons why:

#1 Speed of the Team, Speed of the Church

The church always, always, always takes on the culture of the church staff. If you want a church body that cares about reaching people with the Gospel but your church staff doesn’t model that you can forget about it. If you want a church that cares about the nations you need to have a staff that cares about the nations. I want to serve on a church staff team that cares about what Jesus cares about.

#2 Discipleship/Development doesn’t happen in a Classroom

The first time I went on an international mission trip my life changed. It changed the way I viewed people, the way I read God’s word, my friendship with Jesus and the way I viewed myself and call upon my life. I want to put the team I’m responsible for in environments where their life can be changed by Jesus!

#3 Time Together

Like your church staff, most of the time our church staff spends together is related to work. Rarely do we set aside a significant amount of time designed to move us towards one another relationally and spiritually. A shared experience like serving together can begin to change the relational dynamics on a team.


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Staffing
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