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The Rules of Innovation

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One of the best ways to learn as a church leader is to get outside of the “church-world” and learn from other industries. That kind of exposure challenges your thinking in new ways. It exposes you to different problems that you aren’t facing as well as new solutions that churches aren’t even thinking about.

The other day I had the opportunity to learn from a friend of mine who works in a different industry than the church I serve in. He works for a fast growing, global, world class company that’s known for innovation.

As I listened to him describe his company’s approach to innovation there we some core concepts that were counter intuitive that really stood out to me.

First…Master the Standard

You don’t have the right to innovate until you’ve mastered the existing standard, because otherwise you degrade the standard. In order to innovate you have to begin with a baseline standard. That starting point allows you to begin to improve things, be creative and innovate. In a church you may have a standard way of doing things like checking in kids, new families, or following up on guests. You may have standard expectations in regard to the quality of the worship band, lighting, sound or even the percentage of attenders in a group or engaged in a volunteer team. Innovation in those instances would mean mastering the standard, whatever that is, and then trying new things to improve upon it.

Hyper Standardization AND a Free for All are both Bad for Innovation

Both over standardization and a wild west, no holds barred approach squelch innovation. Innovation for the sake of innovation is a waste of time. There’s plenty of opportunity to innovate against a problem. The best innovations are always for the sake of guests or customers and make things simpler not more complicated.

How it Really Works: 

1. Communicate BEFORE you Innovate
Before you start improving upon the standard always communicate up to your direct report. No boss likes to be surprised and you may find that your boss has different priorities for your time than what you want to innovate.

2. Define the Period of Time that you’ll Run the Test
Be clear about how long you’re going to test this new innovative idea as well as the potential scope of impact.

3. Evaluate Real Results
Conduct an autopsy on the test you ran. What were the net results? Look at both the data and the anecdotes. If it’s not significantly better than the standard, then ditch the idea…it’s not worth chasing.

4. Preserve what Worked and Pivot away from what didn’t
Simply put, have the courage to turn away from ideas that didn’t work, even if you liked the idea, even if it was a good idea. If it didn’t work, then don’t waste your time working it. Preserve what did work significantly better and either work to implement it everywhere or continue to improve upon it.


Posted in Leadership

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[Repost] Leadership Lessons I Learned from my Mom

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Back in 2012 I did a post about some leadership lessons that I learned from my mom. There’s 2 big reasons I want dust that off an and share it again with you today. First and most obvious, it’s Mother’s Day and I wanted to take a moment and give her some public credit. Second, and I’m not going to address this directly in this post, but I’ve been hearing from more and more female leaders in the Church that struggle with finding their place in ministry, a church that will validate their leadership gifts and other strong female leaders in the Church to look up to and learn from. So that being said, here are some leadership lessons I learned from my mom along the way. Thanks mom!

My mom has left an incredible legacy. She’s got two boys that are both married and following Jesus, a couple of great daughter in laws, and seven grandchildren. It’s a legacy that’s definitely worth reproducing. But it becomes more impressive when you understand where she came from. A single child born and raised on the west coast, tragedy struck young when both of her parents died at an early age. Raised by her grandparents she wasn’t exposed to the Gospel until her early 20’s when she followed Christ, married my father, and two unruly little boys entered her life. What follows are 5 leadership lessons that I learned along the way from my incredible mother…

1. The Art of a Unified Front

Mom & Dad were on the same team. As much as we tried, we couldn’t play them against each other. It’s okay for Senior Level Leadership Teams to disagree, in fact differing perspectives and ideas are healthy and beneficial to any organization…as long as it stays in the boardroom.

2. Hard Work is Worth it

When we went to school every day, mom went to work and I don’t know how she did it but she rushed home and made sure we ate dinner together every night as a family. From early in the morning until late at night, mom worked hard. Hard work seems to be a four-letter word in today’s world. Instead we talk about working smarter not harder, streamlining, process efficiency, and supply chain management. While I’m all for efficiency you can’t be afraid to simply roll up your sleeves and do some hard work.

3. Finish Strong

Mom didn’t do things half way. She didn’t leave things undone. She finished. Even if it meant staying up late or getting up early. Too many loose ends will do you in. Starting projects can be fun and exciting but people don’t pay for projects that get started, they pay for results.

4. People follow Leaders who have a Servants Heart

For years I actually thought my mom liked burnt toast. Moms always seem to be the last ones to get dressed, do her hair, eat dinner, and any other number of normal routines around the house. And it was usually due to taking care of everyone else! Young leaders in the workforce today want to know what you want for them, not from them. They want to follow someone who is authentic, vulnerable, and willing to serve. The moment you become too big to serve, you’re too big to lead.

5. Be Patient with Young Talent

Through all of the craziness of having two boys in the house that were…well…all boy. Mom was patient, kind and gentle through it all. Young talent needs time to develop, opportunities to stretch their leadership wings, and yes room to make mistakes like putting holes in walls and breaking things. They need to know that there is room to fail. If there isn’t, they’ll eventually rebel, or worse stop experimenting and stop dreaming all together.


Posted in Family, Leadership

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20 Helpful Metrics for Measuring Church Health

Our team at the Unstuck Group is passionate about providing resources for church leaders to help them succeed.

Everyone has opinions, speculations and ideas around the current trends and why they are happening. But, it’s tough to defy numbers. When deciding to publish The Unstuck Church Report a few months back, our team felt strongly about taking common questions and producing an objective resource that church leaders can apply to their ministry. We find this so critical to church growth and health and we are excited to share the data we collect to give church leaders a snapshot of up-to-date church health trends.

The third edition of The Unstuck Church Report: Benchmarks & Trends in U.S. Churches is out! From attendance to leadership to giving, this report gives church leaders insight into the key metrics of church health, including Ministry ReachStaffing and LeadershipConnection, and Finances.

The Q2 2018 edition is available today. This 4-page PDF reviews 20 updated metrics in key areas of church health, with Tony Morgan sharing his take on the numbers.

Download your copy today. It’s free:

Get the Report

Here are a few insights you can expect to find:

  • One in five churches has gone multisite. Of the churches surveyed, 80% are in one location and 20% have committed to a multisite strategy and are meeting in multiple locations. That’s an increase from previous reporting periods of churches that are using a multisite strategy.
  • About 3 of every 5 adults and students participate in some kind of small group. Churches are seeing 58% of their adults and students participate in a group.
  • Giving is increasing for churches. The per capita giving was $46 per week. That’s up from $42 in prior reporting. To calculate this number, children’s attendance is removed so that per capita giving is measured against adult and student attendance.

Click to download the most up-to-date edition and opt-in to get each quarterly update for free.


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation

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Why Following Jesus is all Backwards

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I know that typically I’m cranking out a couple of blog posts a week that deal with Church Leadership and Making Vision Real. It’s usually something about building a great team, the art of execution, vision, structure, why policies will tank your church…or 15 reasons why your church is stuck and how to fix it. But this post is different. I hope you’ll give me some latitude…and I’ll get back to the 15 reasons why your church is stuck and how to fix it later.

I recently had a moment to rest and was reminded of a couple of ideas that, “I know,” but are really difficult for me to put into action. Even with more than 30 years into following Jesus I feel like there are some basic things I still struggle with. Maybe it’s just me, but this whole following Jesus thing seems so backwards sometimes (ok so all the time)…it just doesn’t come natural to me.

Anyway, here’s a few of the thoughts that I scribbled down that I thought I’d share…hope they’re helpful to you in some way.

To Win you have to be Last

This is tough for me. I like to win. I mean I really like to win. Competition is in my Strength Finders top 5. It’s part of why I think it’s unacceptable for people to die and go to hell…and why I think the church has got to be more aggressive in reaching outsiders instead of pandering to insiders. But…if you really want to win…Jesus said you’ve got to be willing to lose. Remember that whole first / last thing He talked about in that really famous sermon He preached?

To be able to truly Give you have to be able to Receive

You cannot give what you do not have. That makes sense…here’s the tough part though…in order to give you have to be able to receive. Another way to put this is you cannot give love if you don’t know how to receive love. This is tough…because receiving takes all kinds of humility…and if you’re human you get that humility doesn’t come natural to us.

You Work From Rest instead of Working to Rest

Most people are, “working for the weekend.” They work so they can save up enough time off and enough money to get away from work and take a break from it all. Jesus designed life differently than that. He worked from rest instead of resting from work. This one is super convicting for me.

To Gain Your Life you have to Lose it

This just seems super backwards to me…to gain life Jesus says I have to first lose it. I get that real life is found in Him and that in order to take hold of that life we have to let go of this one…but the implications for that statement are both simple and far reaching. This is why there is no leadership without loss. This is why when I got married I was hit square in the face with how selfish I was…and then again when I had a kid…and another…and another…and another. You can probably perceive that I’ve still got some room to grow here.

If you want to Find Wealth it’s start with Giving it away

So they key to building wealth isn’t getting as much as you can while you can, it’s not building up stock piles and hoarding things…it’s actually by giving it away. God’s design for money is that we give first, save second, and live on the rest. Giving first honors God, saving second builds wealth, and living on the rest teaches us contentment. We could probably all do with a little contentment.

I have to constantly remind myself (more like Jesus has to constantly remind me) that it’s not about being better, working harder, or doing more. Jesus is good enough, He worked enough, and He did enough. He really is enough…and I’m still figuring that all out. Hope you are too.


Posted in Spiritual Formation, Testimonial

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10 Articles that will Help your Church Make Vision Real

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Each month I curate the top 10 most popular blog posts I’ve shared recently. These are the articles that got had the greatest engagement in the past month. They were the most visited, shared, helpful or disagreed with. At any rate, thanks for staying in contact with me through engaging in the content on this site, I hope it’s been helpful to you! In case you missed any of them here they are all in one nice tidy place for you!

#1 18 Churchy Things the Class of 2018 Won’t Get

This spring’s high school graduates were born in the year 2000. Here are some churchy things for which they have little to no context for…

#2 7 Ways Church Leaders Unknowingly Lead their Churches to be Stuck

While there are external reasons that churches begin to move the wrong direction the majority of time it’s much closer to home. Often “stuckness” is self-induced by intention or neglect on the part of the leaders of the church. So in no order, here are some things I’ve seen church leaders do to unknowingly lead their churches towards being stuck.

#3 What is a Campus Pastor?

In August, 2012, Leadership Network released a report stating that over 5,000 churches are now multi-site churches (churches that meet in more than one location for worship). It’s a growing trend that first began with mega-churches, but has now expanded to churches of all sizes. With this new trend a new staff role has emerged, that of “Campus Pastor.” While a lot churches are still trying to figure out this new role, here are 6 things that great Campus Pastors do:

#4 8Reasons 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.

#5 What do you do when you Don’t Agree with your Pastor?

If you work on staff at a church, chances are at some point you’re going to disagree with your pastor. That’s okay, you’re human, it would be naive to think you’re always going to agree with your pastor. But what you do with that disagreement is where things can get really messy. Messy for you, and messy for the church.

#6 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.

#7 5 Ways Successful Church Leaders Think Differently 

Successful church leaders naturally think differently than the majority of church leaders. It’s one of the things that set them apart. The good news is you can learn to think just like them.

#8 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.

#9 How to Choose the Next Board Members at your Church

If you’ve led in a church for any length of time you can probably tell some stories of experiences you’ve had with dysfunctional Church Boards. Church Board become dysfunctional for a variety of reasons and there are some basic steps you can take to avoid a dysfunctional Board. The first step is to avoid inviting the wrong people to the Board. In writing this post I’m assuming that you’re already vetting potential Board Members based on the letters the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy and Titus about selecting church leaders. 

#10 10 Keys to Managing Change in a Church

Many churches I talk with want different results; they actually want to see more people meet Jesus and follow Jesus this year than last year. Unfortunately, they just aren’t willing to change, let go of old tactics and take a different approach. Recently I had a conversation with a church staff team that is courageously leading their church through change. Here are a couple of things that came out of the conversation.


Posted in Leadership
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