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4 Ways Spiritual Leaders Violate the Trust of the Church

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Trust is the fuel that leadership runs on, especially in church-world. When trust is high there is an environment for momentum, wins are celebrated, and people follow leadership because they believe in the leader and where the leader is taking them. When trust is low skepticism runs high, progress comes to a screeching halt, and the tenure of the leader is short-lived. Below are four ways leadership of church leaders is commonly eroded.

1. Follow Through

The easiest way for church leaders to build trust is to follow through on, and do what they say they’re going to do. Unfortunately this is also the easiest way to lose trust. This kind of trust can be won or lost at a very low level. For instance, if people in the church body leave voice-mails, send emails, and turn in communication cards from the weekend services that aren’t followed up on in a timely manner you can lose trust in a heartbeat. This kind of behavior in the organization is ultimately an indictment on your leadership as the pastor, because you’re the one leading. And by the way, “timely manner” in the market place is much different than “timely manner” in church world.

2. Integrity

Integrity is the degree to which your public, private, and personal life, line up. Your public life is the part of your life everyone sees. Your private life is the part of your life only those closest to you see. Your personal life is the part of your life that only you see. When these three areas of your life aren’t in alignment you run into character flaws that can show up in some pretty damaging ways. When this happens church leaders forfeit the trust of their congregations.

3. Moral Authority

Nothing is worse than hearing someone communicate with their actions, “Do as I say, not as I do.” It doesn’t work in parenting, and it doesn’t work in leadership. If you want to build trust as a pastor you need to lead with moral authority. That means if you want your church to be authentic then you need to go first and demonstrate authenticity through your teaching and leadership approach. If you want a church of small groups then you need to be in a small group. Leaders who build trust with their congregation go first.

4. Courage

Sometimes leaders can lose trust by moving too fast and not “earning the right to lead,” after all just because you have the title of “pastor” doesn’t mean you’re the leader yet. This is commonplace in churches. However the opposite is true as well. If you have earned the right to lead and you don’t have the courage to cash in the leadership chips you’ve earned you can lose the trust of your congregation. They’re waiting for you to lead, so lean into the trust you’ve built and lead, otherwise you’ll lose it.

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Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation

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3 Ways Leaders Lead at their Best

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Over the last 15 years I’ve been blessed to lead worship with many talented musicians and singers. I’ve led at camps and retreats. I’ve led for different generation, for different gatherings, for different churches. I’ve led in large venues and small venues. And through it all I’ve discovered three principles that allow me to lead at my best…truth is, these principles apply to anyone who leads a team.

1. Trust Your Teammates

If I’m focused on whether or not the drummer is staying on time or if the bass player is playing the right notes then I’m not focused on leading the church and engaging the crowd. As leaders we need to equip and empower our teams and then trust them to do what only they can do so we can do what we’re called to do.

Key Question: Do you have confidence in the people you lead with?

In worship ministry, we audition. Then we train and equip. I provide whatever the musician needs in order to set them up for success. When they feel confident I feel confident and I can set my attention to leading the crowds.

2. Like Your Teammates

I’ve noticed that when there are people leading with me that I genuinely like to be around it is more fun to lead the church. When it’s fun I do better. There are certain people that I connect with more so than others. These are the people I want to do ministry with. Chemistry is a must in order for me to be at my best. This sometimes means I’d rather lead with less talented people in order to lead with people I like.

Key Question: Do you look forward to leading with the people who are on your team?

When working with volunteers this doesn’t always happen. There are certain roles to fill and we can’t always fill them with people we instantly connect with. But, when possible I try to have someone I consider a friend on every team I lead.

This leads me to the third principle…

3. Know What Gives You Energy

In order to lead with people you like you can’t surround yourself with people that drain you of your energy. I don’t care how talented they are.

In addition, like most artists I’m an introvert. Standing around making small talk with strangers sucks the life out of me. If I do that right before I go on stage I might not have the energy I need to lead worship. This is why artists have “green rooms.” It is being intentional about preserving energy for when it is needed the most.

A green room should be stocked with food, coffee and anything else that combats the early call times and the energy drainers. It is a safe haven that needs to be protected.

Key Question: Do you have a plan for gaining and maintaining energy?

When all three of these principles are aligned I know I’m getting the best out of me and that usually means a great experience for everyone else. As goes the leader, so goes the team.

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This is a guest post by Matt Thompson who serves as the Worship Pastor at the Tempe Campus of Sun Valley Community Church. To keep up with Matt you can connect with him on Twitter or Facebook.


Posted in Creative Arts, Leadership

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5 Articles that will Help You Make Vision Real

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Thank you for making May a great month here at Helping Churches Make Vision Real! It’s great staying connected with you through social media and hearing about how helpful different articles have been. So, thank you for connecting with me through the content on this blog! You made these the top 5 Posts from this last month. If you missed out on any of them, here they are all in one place for your convenience!

#1 “4 Indispensable Truths about the Art of Planning”

All of us have been in planning meetings before with a team that seemed to have had a break through moment. You know, that moment when everyone says, “Yes! That’s exactly the direction we need to move, and that’s exactly how we need to get there from here!” There was energy, excitement and unity as everyone left the meeting. But the more time that passed after the meeting dismissed the more that energy that was there faded and the less movement towards actualizing the plan took place. In fact a large majority of planning meetings don’t actually provoke much real change in most churches and organizations. Here are 4 reasons why many of your plans aren’t really getting you anywhere:

#2 “Leadercast 2014 Recap”

If you missed the 2014 Leadercast, then you missed some great content, great speakers, and incredible ideas that have the potential to shift your thinking when it comes to leadership. But no worries! Now you’ve got all the notes to every session right here at your fingertips for free! Hope you enjoy!

#3 “Take the 2014 Church Budgeting Survey”

Participate in the survey & get a free copy of the Executive Summary! Get answers to questions like:

  • What percentage of our budget should go towards Staffing, Operations, Ministry, and Missions?
  • How much debt do churches of similar size carry?
  • Do these percentages change as the size of our church changes over time?
  • How do different churches go about building their annual budget?

#4 “New Leadership Coaching Networks Launching this Fall”

Over the last 3 years of working with The Unstuck Group one of the most rewarding and enjoyable things I’ve had the opportunity to do is facilitate leadership coaching networks for Sr. Leaders serving in local churches around the country. I’m excited to let you know that I’m receiving applications for my next coaching network beginning this fall. Be sure to get your application in before the deadline of August 15. A couple of the spots have already been filled so space is limited!

#5 “Helping Your Church get Unstuck”

Churches get stuck for all kinds of reasons. It’s okay to get stuck, it’s just not okay to stay that way. There’s too much Kingdom potential on the line. That’s why 2014 needs to be the year that your church finally gets unstuck! At the Unstuck Group we help churches grow their impact through church consulting and coaching experiences designed to focus vision, strategy, and action. At the Unstuck Group we don’t just offer consulting solutions. We help churches get unstuck!

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Posted in Leadership

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Why Shared Leadership is Better Leadership

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Leadership is a gift that is meant to be shared. It’s how leadership is both best developed and best exercised. Shared leadership is not for everyone though. It requires a tremendous amount of personal security and deep levels of trust at the highest levels of the organization. But if you can master shared leadership then you’ll move at a pace you never thought was possible.

1. Shared Leadership Attracts Better Leaders

Leaders are attracted to leadership opportunities, organizations in which they’ll be able to exercise their God-given gift. When you’re willing to share real leadership decisions and influence with others all of the sudden your ability to attract top talent to your team goes up dramatically.

2. Shared Leadership Keeps Better Leaders

Keeping leaders in today’s economy is tough. Especially when young up and coming leaders want more influence and more responsibility. Well, why not give it to them? Figure out what only you can do and do that. Then give the rest away. The more leadership you’re able to share the longer you’ll keep other leaders at the table and by the way you’ll end up keeping more leaders at the table as well.

3. Shared Leadership Generates Better Decisions

The team truly does outperform the individual every time. In a shared leadership model you afford yourself the luxury to not have to shoulder the burden of being the best at everything…and let’s face it, we all know you’re not the best at everything…so stop pretending. In a shared leadership model you get to lead in your area of brilliance and submit in areas of weakness and allow others to shine. Sounds kinda Biblical doesn’t it?

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Posted in Leadership

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How Centralizing Ministry is Crippling Your Church

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Many churches are enamored with the idea of centralization. Internally you’ll even hear churches talk about ideas like efficiencies, being streamlined or getting rid of redundancies.

In many multisite churches it’s even common to hear the term “Central Services” thrown around, a workgroup that is essentially designed to do away with redundancies and duplication of efforts between campuses. For instance, having one business department instead of staffing a business department or function on every campus. Seems smart right?

While at first pass centralization may seem like an efficient approach to greater ministry impact and moving further faster, it’s not always the best thing for the advancement of the mission of the church. In fact here are 6 ways well intentioned churches are unknowingly crippling their ministry impact for the sake of centralization.

1. Slows Decision Making

In a centralized system decisions get pushed up in the organization instead of down. It forces high-level staff members to deal with low-level problems. And it takes decision making away from those on the front line who are closest to the problem and probably know the most about it. Whenever Sr. level leaders are dealing with the wrong issues it slows the pace of any church or organization

2. Makes Communication Cumbersome

When communication has to be filtered through one person (the gatekeeper), or funneled through a chain of people you’ve got problem on your hands. Layers of bureaucracy, policy, and multistep communication chains slow progress towards the mission. And it creates more opportunities for miscommunication, misrepresentation, and misinterpretation of decision-making and actions to be taken.

3. Creates an “Us vs. Them “ Mentality

Whenever “we” have to wait for “them” to make a decision, and “they” don’t understand what “we” are dealing with on the frontline because “they” are somewhere back at a centralized headquarters it creates an “Us vs. Them” mentality.

4. Undermines Innovation

In any organization or church one of the most important sources for innovation and creative problem solving is the frontline employee or volunteer. Centralization takes away power from that individual to creatively solve their own problems and as a result people don’t learn how to think, rather they’re trained to just take orders. As a result creativity and innovation begin to dry up.

5. Requires very little Trust

When someone doesn’t need to be trusted to think and act through the filter of the culture of the church or organization it’s demoralizing. Conversely it’s an empowering thing to know that one is trusted, it boosts one’s spirit and often encourages them to rise to the occasion and actually increase the level of their game. Trust is the fuel that the best leaders and churches run on and if you’re not careful centralization can begin to erode trust and damage your culture.

6. The Gospel was Never meant to be Controlled

Ultimately the dance that church leaders do regarding centralization vs. decentralization comes down to an issue of control. And the Gospel was never meant to be controlled or managed it was meant to be unleashed.

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Posted in Leadership
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