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Breaking Growth Barriers: Learn to Lead for Where Your Church is Headed

Here’s the good news about many church growth barriers:

They can often be overcome by discovering the shifts that need to happen in your own leadership and in the systems your church is currently engaging. We’ve encountered many a church of 800 still leading and operating like a church of 400. We’ve worked with many a multisite church still approaching leadership and management like a single site church — even if they don’t realize it.

We say this a lot, but being stuck is a terrible feeling, and hope is not a strategy for getting unstuck. Are you willing to take your next steps in leadership? By joining a coaching network, you can take those steps with a community of like-minded church leaders on a similar journey.

In May 2017, we’ll kick off 3 New Leadership Coaching Networks that will help you learn best practices from healthy, growing churches and begin applying them in your church from day one.

Each is designed to help churches address specific growth barriers. Learn which is right for you:

The Unstuck Church: Reaching 1,000 Coaching Network

This network is designed to help you move from reaching hundreds to reaching 1,000 in attendance by clarifying what’s working and what’s wrong, defining an action plan for next steps, and establishing a staffing and ministry structure that supports growth and health.

The Unstuck Church: Growing Beyond 2,000 Coaching Network

This network will help you develop strategies to tackle the unique challenges of larger churches including leadership development, staffing, communications, discipleship and establishing healthy growth engines.

Multisite Leadership Coaching Network

This experience will set you up to more effectively lead a growing, multisite church. We will help you navigate Common Pitfalls in Multisite, Refining Your Model, Clarifying How You Structure and Operate, Best Practices for Launching a Campus, Managing the Tension (Central vs Campus), and more!

[Learn More and Apply]
Registration closes April 1


Posted in Leadership, Staffing

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Why Leading by Example doesn’t Work

Leading by example sounds like the right thing to do, doesn’t it? After all thousands of pages written on leadership, by leadership experts can’t be wrong can they? The problem is you can’t lead by example. Your example may inspire others, it may set behavioral standards for others, your example may even be a prerequisite for authentic leadership, but your example doesn’t actually lead others anywhere. Instead great leaders set the example and then hold the team accountable to the standard. The secret is in the accountability…not the example.

Set Expectations Often & Early

The earlier you state expectations and the standard with a team member the clearer everyone will be on deliverables. Without clearly stated expectations you end up surprising and frustrating team members when you hold them accountable to outcomes they were unaware of.

Don’t Micromanage

Micromanagement discourages production and results instead of encouraging it. Team members tend to resist and rebel against leaders who micromanage them no matter what kind of “example” they are setting in the workplace.

Follow Through

Do what you say you’re going to do. Reward team members who perform well and correct those who don’t. Follow through and hold team members accountable to the standard.

Coach those who want to be Coached

Not everyone on your team wants to be coached, even though you may feel they need coaching. So spend time coaching team members who are coachable. Don’t waste your time investing precious time into people who can’t or won’t take coaching.


Posted in Leadership, Staffing

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Leadership can’t be Taught in a Classroom

I’ve never worked with a church that said they didn’t need more leaders. No, many churches, even healthy growing churches I’ve worked with mention two big hurdles that they feel are holding them back from accomplishing the vision God has given them; leaders and money. In fact I’ve been surprised to hear in recent conversations the amount of churches searching for an off the shelf solution that they can plug and play in their church in a hope that they will develop more leaders.

There is probably more accessible, solid leadership content available to the church leaders today than ever before. But even with the wealth of legitimately excellent leadership content available at their fingertips, it doesn’t seem like churches are producing any more leaders than they have before. One reason that is the case is that churches continue to buy into a couple of fundamental flaws when it comes to thinking about leadership development.

Leadership isn’t Information

Leadership isn’t learned in a classroom, by reading books, or by sitting around drinking coffee or whatever your beverage of choice is and pontificating about leadership ideas and principles or worse, arm chair quarterbacking other leaders. Leadership is learned by leading. It’s something you simply can’t understand until you do it, you have to exercise that muscle to develop and strengthen it. The Bible teaches us that, “knowledge puffs up while love builds up” (1 Corinthians 8:1). If information was the same thing as maturity then the most mature people walking around when Jesus was walking the Earth were the Pharisees. They knew more about the Scriptures than anyone and they ended up having Jesus crucified. Not very mature huh? Leadership is a lot like love. You can’t say you love someone and not act on it…it has to show up at some point. Or you don’t love them.

Leadership isn’t a Program

Leadership can’t be developed using an off the shelf curriculum or program that you plug and play at your church. You are the leadership development program at your church. Leaders don’t build followers they build leaders. Stop using leadership programs as a crutch and excuse because you don’t have time to do this. If you’re the leader then lead…and build other leaders.

Leadership Skills can be Acquired

Even if you don’t have a leadership gift you can develop, practice, and perfect leadership skills. You can acquire new skills…even leadership skills.

A Leadership Gift can be Developed

According to the Bible, leadership is actually a spiritual gift (Romans 12:6-8). A gift not given to everyone, and to those it is given to, it’s not given in equal measure. But that gift no matter how great or small can be developed and grown.


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Staffing

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Avoidance: The Silent Killer of a Team

Great teams keep short accounts and normalize feedback, which allow them to make small degrees of change along the way. These behaviors allow great teams to create feedback loops, innovate, and test new solutions quickly.

The problem? Most teams aren’t great teams. Most teams don’t have the courage to be that honest with one another. Most teams would rather talk about one another than talk to one another. They avoid conflict, and in so doing, they quietly kill their team.

I don’t blame them; it’s easier to avoid conflict than it is to run towards it. It’s easier to tell people what they want to hear than tell them what they need to hear. It’s easier to tell people a shade of or portion of the truth instead of the full truth. It’s not always easy to speak the truth…even if it’s true. When avoidance runs rampant on a team you’ll typically find symptoms of defensiveness, combativeness, excuses and fear.

Jesus modeled a different, more courageous brand of leadership without taking a harsh or rude approach.

  • In Matthew chapter 5 Jesus encourages us that even if we are at the altar offering a sacrifice and remember that there is something between us and someone else, we are to leave what we’re doing and go make that right.
  • In Matthew 18 Jesus teaches us that if there is an issue between us and another person we are to go directly to that person to resolve it first.
  • Jesus doesn’t avoid speaking the truth to the woman at the well in John chapter 4 who had a string of broken marriages and He doesn’t avoid it with the woman caught in the act of adultery in John chapter 8.

Yes, timing matters and your approach matters. You may not do it well at first but don’t let that stop you from flexing a new muscle and building a new discipline. Don’t sit back and do nothing. Don’t let avoidance kill your team.


Posted in Leadership, Staffing

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6 Keys to Motivating 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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