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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

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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.l1510999806iamg@1510999806pihsr1510999806edael1510999806srell1510999806esela1510999806d1510999806.


Posted in Leadership

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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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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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