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Top Posts of 2017 #1 “7 Things All Growing Churches have in Common”

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Thanks for sticking around for this year’s Top-10 countdown of my most popular posts! Not surprising the most popular post this last year here at Helping Churches Make Vision Real was about church growth and 7 things that are common to all growing churches. Does your church exhibit these characteristics?

Once a month at Sun Valley Community Church (the church I have the privilege of serving at) we gather all of our staff from all of our campuses to have some fun, celebrate wins, keep everybody on the same page and often times do some leadership development training. Last week Chad Moore, who serves as the Lead Pastor at Sun Valley shared 7 Things that All Growing Churches have in Common…I thought these may be helpful to you in your local church context…

  • Church is not a building that you come to it’s a movement that you choose to be a part of to help people meet know and follow Jesus.
  • You can’t come to church because you are the church.
  • To get the right answers about church you have to ask the right questions.
  • The book of acts is all about how the early church acted

1. Passionate and Proficient leaders

The starting point for any movement is highly competent leaders who are deeply committed leaders to the cause. Without highly competent leaders the church will prematurely hit a leadership capacity lid. Without deeply committed leaders the church will be stunted due to leadership turnover when things get too difficult.

2. Clearly Defined Vision and Goals

Jesus gave the early Church a clear vision to get this movement going in Acts 1:8, we don’t have to make up the mission (why we exist) of the church. But we do get to lean into the vision (where we are going next) of the church. Most churches just say things like, “We are just going to follow the Spirit.” Which sounds really spiritual but is usually code for, “We don’t know where we’re going or what we’re doing.” Most churches forget that planning is spiritual, Proverbs is in the Bible too and God has a plan…He’s not just winging it. Hope is not a strategy; if you don’t have a target you’ll hit it every time.

3. Culture that Supports the Vision and Strategy

Culture is the soft squishy stuff that most organizations have a difficult time clearly defining. Culture is how the people in the organization think, feel, what they value, and how they actually behave. Regardless of what’s written on the wall, it’s what’s happening down the hall. Of all the things that a leader does the most important is what the leader does to protect and fuel the culture.

4. A Strong Communicating Leader (cultural architect)

The early church had Peter and Paul (among others). Contrary to popular belief in church-world; teaching on the weekends is not the most important thing we’re doing. The most important thing we’re doing is building culture and we’re using the Bible to reinforce and build this movement called the church. The primary purpose of the pulpit is not teaching, it’s leading.

5. Generous, Consistent Giving

When I first started giving I was nervous to do it, now I’m nervous not to do it. 2 common barriers that hold back the movement of the church are leaders and money. It is the leaders responsibility to not just develop leaders but also develop generosity in the heart of the church to fuel the vision.

6. Passionate and Proficient Next Step Leaders

Growing churches must have people on the team who are great at helping people take their next step with Jesus. The ministry of Jesus can be broken down into 4 categories:

  • Come & See: The woman at the well (John 4)…”come and see a man who knew all about me, could He be the Messiah”
  • Follow Me: This is a line in the sand (John 6)…you’re either going to follow Jesus or you’re not
  • Be with Me: Up close and over time…this is Jesus and the disciples
  • Remain in Me: This person knows the Bible, can read it and apply it on his or her own and lead others (John 15)

Preaching can only do the first two. Next Steps are the next two. The first two are message and mission. The last two are relationship and responsibility.

7. Unapologetic Focus on Evangelism

At the end of the day the church is all about helping people meet Jesus. Growing churches make decisions based on whom they are trying to reach, not whom they are trying to keep.


Posted in Leadership

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Top Posts of 2017 #2 “7 Indicators that you’ve Found the Ideal Ministry Spouse”

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In ministry your spouse can make you or break you. It may be cliché but it’s true, behind every great Ministry Staff Member is a great ministry spouse…and you can’t have one without the other. So whether you’re already married or you’re still searching for the right person, here are a couple traits you should be looking for in the ideal ministry spouse.

1. They’re Flexible

When you’re in ministry, you’re constantly “on.” Ministry doesn’t always abide by the family schedule. Crisis doesn’t always happen in people’s lives and the church according to plan.

2. They’re Comfortable being Independent

Ministry is a calling (profession) that requires long hours at times, especially during holidays that are traditionally family moments. Finding someone that understands the importance of having you around the kids and the family but is also able to run the household while you’re not available is essential.

3. They Embrace the Church you work at

Great ministry spouses believe in you and they believe in what you’re doing. It’s more than a job to them too. They don’t want to just see you succeed they want to see the church you’re leading succeed. They find creative ways to be involved in the church you’re leading that fit their personality and reach out to the staff and volunteers. They’re an extension of you.

4. They’re Your Biggest Fan

Ministry can really knock the wind out of you at times. Great ministry spouses know how to shoulder your burdens and comfort you in the low moments, and they’re the first ones to celebrate you in the good moments.

5. They’re Assertive with Boundaries

While being supportive they also have the ability to be firm, be honest and clear about what they need from you, and know when it’s time to call an audible for a date night or vacation. They make you want to be “better,” they bring out the best in you, and call you on your stuff.

6. They’re Safe

Even though you’re not going to share everything with them about your job, you’re going to share most things with them. Great ministry spouses are trustworthy, hold sensitive information to themselves well, and act as a stabilizing voice in your life.

7. They Understand the Pressure of Ministry

Ministry carries with it unique spiritual, emotional, time, and social pressures. Great ministry spouses “get it.” They help you carry and even diffuse that pressure.


Posted in Family, Leadership, Spiritual Formation

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Top Posts of 2017 #3 “5 Things that make Good Church Staff Member Leave your Church”

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We’re now into the top 3 posts from 2017 and it’s no surprise that topic of building and keeping the right team comes in at number 3.

Good Church Staff Members leave churches for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes it’s because God has called them to something different. But more often than not it’s because of something very different.

1. You Stop Listening to Them

When you don’t listen to people they stop talking. And when you stop listening to good staff members they’ll go somewhere else where they feel heard.

2. They Don’t Feel Empowered

Nothing is worse than having responsibility for something with no authority to do anything about it. When you don’t empower staff members to make real decisions they’ll go somewhere they can.

3. An Unhealthy Staff Culture

Good team members don’t stay around on unhealthy teams very long. One of the best ways to attract and keep great team members is to build a health staff culture.

4. Lack of Vision

If you can’t provide clarity to your team about where you’re going next they’ll eventually grow frustrated, leave, and find that clarity somewhere else. And the irony is that those who have the greatest propensity to lead into the future will leave first.

5. Poor Strategy

If your team has a tendency to talk about ideas but has a difficult time executing them you probably don’t have a actionable strategy in place to move you toward a clear vision. Good Church Staff members don’t just want to talk about ideas, they want to execute them. If you can’t help them do that they’ll go somewhere else they can.

What are some other reasons you’ve see good Church Staff Members leave a church? Leave a comment.


Posted in Staffing

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Top Posts of 2017 #4 “Stop Hiring People to Work at your Church”

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I just wrote this post back in October and it jumped up the Top-10 chart quickly! It addresses one of the most significant and common lids to growth that churches experience.

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 Leadership, Staffing

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Top Posts of 2017 #5 “Why Leading by Example doesn’t Work”

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We’ve finally made it into the top 5 in this year’s countdown and it starts off with another popular post about team dynamics and leadership development.

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
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