Underfunded: 4 Reasons Why Church Vision Stalls

We believe in the power of a clear vision and a solid action plan to help churches move forward.

But too often, we see churches seek God for a vision, diligently plan for action and then hit a wall they don’t have to hit. We have seen passionate teams and inspiring visions stall out because one key aspect commonly receives too little focus…funding.

We often see church leaders sidestep this component of vision. No matter the effort and inspiration, an underfunded vision will result in a stagnant plan.

This is a conversation we’ve been having lately. We want to invite you into it. Join Tony Morgan, Joe Sangl and Marty Schmidt for a free webinar on Wednesday, Nov. 15 at 1pm EST.

Underfunded: 4 Reasons Church Vision Stalls

The conversation will center on the most common reasons we see church vision stall when it comes to funding.

You will learn to recognize and diagnose issues like:

  • The Un-Fundable Vision
  • Fundraising vs. Building a Generous Culture
  • The Campaign Trap
  • Not Knowing What You Don’t Know (and Proceeding Anyway)

Space is limited, so register asap. We hope to see you there!

Posted in Leadership


10 Things that Require Zero Talent


“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard”

That’s a statement I talk to my son about all the time. He’s only 9 years old, but I want him to grow up to have a great work ethic and a positive attitude. I don’t expect him to be the great at everything he attempts, but I do expect him to give a great effort. There’s a lot of things he can’t control in life, but he’ll always be able to control his effort and his attitude.

This advice has greater implications than just a father to a son. There are some huge church leadership implications to this. In fact, the other day when I was working with a client that the Unstuck Group is coaching through a church merger I saw a note posted on the door of one of the staff members that was so good, I thought I’d share it with you. It was a list of 10 things that require zero talent…

#1 Being on Time: My girls learned this simple lesson when they were learning the game of golf when they were little. If you’re early you’re on time, if you’re on time you’re late, and if you’re late your disqualified. Great advice that works in golf and in life.

#2 Work Ethic: You may not be the boss and have the ability to control what kind of work you get assigned but you can control how you go about your work.

#3 Effort: You may not be great at it…but try hard anyway.

#4 Body Language: You say more with your body language than the words that actually come out of your mouth.

#5 Energy: You choose your energy level.

#6 Attitude: Your attitude is a choice and no one can fix it but you.

#7 Focus: You move towards what you focus on and you get to choose what gets your attention.

#8 Being Coachable: You can learn from anyone, but you have to choose to.

#9 Doing Extra: If someone asks you to go a mile and you do it they might remember that. But if you go the extra mile it’ll make a lasting impression.

#10 Being Prepared: When your opportunity comes along it’s too late to get ready and prepare yourself. Start preparing today for the opportunity that will come your way tomorrow.

Posted in Leadership


New FREE Resource on trends in Church Growth and Health

At The Unstuck Group, we serve hundreds of churches annually. As a part of the Ministry Health Assessment phase of our process, we’ve developed some key metrics to help church leaders get an objective snapshot of the health of their church. Because of that, we’ve had our eye on these metrics for years, and we’ve often shared them with the churches we serve.

We recently decided to give our wider network church leaders a consistent look at the trends we’re identifying through this data.

Each quarter, we plan to release a new edition of The Unstuck Church Report: Benchmarks & Trends in U.S. Churches. It’s a 4-page PDF overviewing 20 updated metrics in key areas of church health, including Ministry Reach, Staffing and Leadership, Connection, and Finances. Tony Morgan shares his take on several of the more intriguing data points.

The first edition is available now, and it’s free!

Here are just a few of the questions you can expect the report to answer:

  • Has average attendance increased or decreased overall?
  • What percentage of churches have gone multisite?
  • How many people are churches baptizing?
  • What percentage of the budget are churches spending on staffing?
  • What’s the average span of care for leaders?

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

We’ve found that few church leaders are actually tracking a comprehensive set of metrics to inform their view of their church’s health. We hope this report will equip you with a better understanding of the ones we think are important, and ultimately, help you lead an unstuck church.

Posted in Leadership


Can a Congregationally-Led Church be Healthy?

congregational leadership

Why are the majority of small churches in America congregationally-led instead of being led by pastors and ministry staff?

Here’s a short history lesson:

The congregational style of church government finds its sustained growth in the birth of our nation. The driving force behind people risking everything to sail to the new land was to throw off the tyranny of government and religious persecution. Unfair policies and spiritual hierarchy, along with unbearable taxation, served as the motivators for families to uproot and risk everything.

Oppression lingered in the minds of these pilgrims, and their response was to establish congregations that mirrored the newly embraced form of democratic government. Once and for all, we would be free from persecution and tyrannical rule in our houses of worship.

Another major contributing factor to the congregational structure was the effects of the Protestant Reformation which was now firmly established in religious thinking. The doctrine of the priesthood of the believer declared that every believer has direct access to God without requiring a human mediator. It is easy to see the direct correlation between an individual’s personal connection with God and the rejection of spiritual leadership after so many centuries of spiritual aristocracy and hierarchy within Christianity.

If It’s Good Enough for the USA

The majority of the rural churches did not have a bishop or pastor to lead them. So circuit-riding preachers would travel from church to church on Sundays teaching from the Scriptures. The prevailing attitude became that the preacher tells us what the Bible says without actually meddling in our day to day lives.

Today, the average small church in America is still democratic, choosing deacons, trustees or elders through a popular vote, and voting on the installation of a new preacher whenever called for.

This attitude is so ingrained in church DNA that the thought of a pastor or staff-led church sounds like heresy. It prevails from one generation to the next.

If It’s Not Biblical, What Is It?

Ephesians 4:1-16 gives us uncompromised clarity about how Jesus intended for His church to be structured.

A church led by those God has called to lead will equip the saints to do the work of the ministry. The results will be a church that models maturity, stability, integrity and community.

This passage also states very clearly that His church will grow. At its core, a healthy church grows both deep and wide, in character and numerically.

So, can a congregationally-led church be healthy?

In most cases, the answer is no. And even if they experience health for a season, it’s not likely to be sustained.

A small church mentality is what keeps a church small. A proper understanding of how Jesus intended for His church to work should eventually motivate us to adopt His design for His church.

Leading a shift from congregational leadership to staff-led leadership is no small feat. But as our team at The Unstuck Group continues to serve stuck churches, this is one of the major reasons vision has stalled out and churches are starting to die.

Tony Morgan and Amy Anderson dive deeper into this topic in a recent episode of The Leadership Unstuck Podcast. Check it out here:

Episode 10 – Staff vs. Congregational Leadership

Does choosing a new shade of paint for the lobby require approvals from three different committees at your church? Maybe it’s time to start asking if your current structure is the best way to make decisions.

This episode addresses challenges that both staff-led and congregation-led churches face and provides clear roles for effective lay leadership boards.

About the Author: 

Dale Sellers has been in ministry for 35 years. He and his wife, Gina, have been married for 34 years. They have three daughters and two sons-in-law. Their first grandchild is due in July! He launched Dale Sellers Leadership, Inc. in March 2014 to assist organizations in the areas of leadership, inspiration, and evangelism. He has recently become an Associate Consultant for The Unstuck Group with a focus on helping the small church. You can contact him at moc.l1521884784iamg@1521884784pihsr1521884784edael1521884784srell1521884784esela1521884784d1521884784.

Posted in Leadership


Casting Vision for the Next Chapter: Sun Valley Community Church

Back in the spring, I had the opportunity to facilitate a strategic planning retreat with the leadership team from Sun Valley Community Church. Sun Valley is a church with 7,000 people gathering in five locations in the Phoenix area. Many times, I don’t get the opportunity to see the vision move from the planning charts to reality. Because of that, I was encouraged to see this update. Check out the video below.


As I was listening to Chad give this update, these leadership thoughts came to mind:

1) Owners need updates.

If people invest prayer, time and money, they expect to hear about results.

2) The Lead Pastor can’t delegate vision-casting.

Although a team can develop new vision, the lead pastor is primarily responsible for casting the vision.

3) Multisite only works if you’re actually one church in multiple locations.

Sun Valley is Sun Valley in all five campuses. You get the same experience, the same teaching and the same ministry philosophy regardless of where you go.

4) It doesn’t take a big personality to lead a big church.

Chad is a strong leader and a great Bible teacher, but Sun Valley hasn’t experienced health and growth due to his personality. I personally think it’s due to the strength of the strategy and the team Chad has helped build.

5) It’s important to say “thank you.”

The vision can’t be accomplished without the contribution of people’s time, talent and treasure. If you’ve made an investment like that in the past, you know it’s good to hear “thank you.”

For more inspiration on how to cast vision for the future, check on Sun Valley’s website for details on The Next Chapter for how they plan to help people meet, know and follow Jesus.

About the Author: Tony Morgan
Tony is the Chief Strategic Officer and founder of The Unstuck Group. For 14 years, Tony served on the senior leadership teams at West Ridge Church (Dallas, GA), NewSpring Church (Anderson, SC) and Granger Community Church (Granger, IN). He’s written several books and articles that have been featured with the Willow Creek Association, Catalyst and Pastors.com.

Posted in Leadership, Testimonial
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