5 Articles that will Help your Church Make Vision Real


Thank you for making February an incredible month here at Helping Churches Make Vision Real! It’s great staying connected with readers through social media and hearing that these articles have been helpful. 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 Why People Don’t Volunteer at Church Anymore

I’ve never worked with a church that said they had enough volunteers to accomplish the vision that Jesus has given them. In fact here are some of the most common reasons why people may not be volunteering at your church…

#2 10 Principles to Building a Great Guest Experience at your Church

Do you know how to build a great guest experience at your church? Are you starting with the right building blocks? This top 10 list has been built from my experience of working with churches across the country the past couple of years with the Unstuck Group.

#3 How to Keep your Best Staff Members from Leaving

One in two church staff members is open to new employment. At the Unstuck Group were shocked to learn this during our latest research on church staffing and structure. At the same time, our experience confirms that many church staff members are simply unsatisfied. If it’s true that half of staff members are willing to leave, how can you possibly build and retain an effective ministry team?

#4 The Humility Test: Can you Admit when you’re Wrong?

The look on Richard Sherman’s face near the end of the Super Bowl last night is priceless. You know the moment. The score was 28-24. Seattle had the ball, 2nd and goal from the 1 yard line with 24 seconds left on the clock. Score a touchdown (gain just 1 yard in 3 attempts) and they go down in history as repeat Super Bowl Champions…

#5 Should your Church go Multisite? An interview with Jim Tomberlin & Tony Morgan

Recently I had the opportunity to have a conversation with Tony Morgan and Jim Tomberlin about multi-site strategy in 2015. Here are a few of the highlights:

  • There are now 5,000+ multi-site churches in our country.
  • 37% of all multi-site churches start through mergers.
  • Most multi-site churches (85%) never grow beyond three total locations. Jim says most still act like a single-site church by not re-structuring to handle more campuses. But trying to add a 4th campus without changing your systems and structure rarely works.
  • Multi-site is not a growth engine. It will accelerate growth in a healthy church, but if you’re not already outreach-driven, multi-site probably won’t work to help you grow.
  • The average size of a church that adds its first multi-site campus is 1,200.

Photo Credit: justin fain via Compfight cc

Posted in Leadership


How Many People should your Church have on Staff?

Before you buy into the idea that you need another staff person at your church, think again. That just may be the worst decision you make at your church this year.

It’s not uncommon in churches that I work with to hear them say, “We need to add more staff.” After all if there are problems or areas where the church is stuck then throwing staff at that problem will surely fix it…right? Well, not always. In fact the opposite may be true. In fact the most effective churches that I see have a tendency to hire fewer staff not more staff. They hire more competent team members who have the ability to turn attenders into volunteers, volunteers into leaders, and build teams. Instead of paying people to do ministry they pay people to lead others to do ministry.

At the Unstuck Group we encourage churches to staff to a ratio of 100:1. As you can see in the chart above the average ratio of attendance to staff in most churches is 86:1. In other words for every 86 people in attendance at the church (including adults and kids), there’s typically one full-time staff person.

This number includes all paid staff at the church. That means administrative staff, support staff, ministry staff and pastors. This number also includes both full-time and part-time staff. We calculate the full-time equivalent (FTE) number by adding the total average number of hours part-time staff work and then dividing by 40. That number is added to the number of full-time staff to get the FTEs. For example, if there are 5 full-time employees and 10 part-time employees working a combined average of 200 hours per week, that makes for a total of 10 FTE’s.

Over staffing is a big deal in churches because it’s usually an indicator that:

1. The church has become Insider Focused

Typically an overstaffed church is paying people to do ministry and run programs to keep long-time people in the church happy.

2. The church has a Poor Culture of Volunteerism

There is a direct connection between staffing and volunteerism at churches. Generally the more a church spends on staffing the less likely attenders are to serve.

3. The church has Stopped Growing

There is also a direct connection between staffing and church growth. What we’ve discovered in our research at the Unstuck Group is that the more a church spends on staff the more the rate of attendance growth slows.

In other words the more staff your church has the more likely your church is to become insider focused, have a low level of buy-in and volunteerism by attenders, and to be plateaued or in decline.

Interested in learning more? Download the ebook “Vital Signs: Meaningful Metrics That Keep a Pulse on Your Church’s Health” or consider engaging the Unstuck Group to do a Ministry Health Assessment with your church.

Posted in Leadership, Staffing, Volunteers


5 Reasons People don’t Sing at your Church


I’ve been hearing a lot of concern about the fact that people are singing less and not engaging in the corporate time of worship at church. Most of the talk I hear seems to be finger pointing and critiquing the current culture of American churches rather than providing solutions that are within our control.

We all want people engaging in worship, but what is really in our control and how can we help people connect through the music? Here is a list of factors that contribute to how people respond and engage during worship in our churches.

1. Personal

Where are they at spiritually? Obviously if they don’t know Jesus they won’t be led to worship Him. But, on the other end of the spectrum, Jesus said that the person who has been forgiven much will love much. It’s all too common for a church person to forget how much grace they have received.

What circumstances are currently affecting their mental, emotional and physical health? There could be a crisis in their life. They may have just gotten in fight with their spouse or kids or friend. They may harbor bitterness toward the church or someone on stage.

 What is their church background? Some people grow up in churches where raising hands is forbidden. Others speak in tongues and jump wave flags.

 How do they prefer to connect with God? God has crafted us uniquely with different passions and personalities. Not everyone connects to Jesus by standing and singing songs. See “Sacred Pathways” by Gary Thomas.

2. Environmental

Does the space they are gathered in help or hinder? So many of us react to our surroundings and allow them to influence our emotions and thoughts. The lighting, size, temperature and smell of the room can all be a factor in whether or not someone chooses to engage, be distracted, overwhelmed, claustrophobic or even disgusted.

3. Relational

Do people feel welcomed and accepted? If I think the people around me are going to judge me based on how I respond in worship then my focus isn’t on God and I’ll play it safe.

Are others engaged? Nobody wants to be the only person with their hands up or singing at the top of their lungs. Most of us would rather fit in and do what everyone else is doing.

4. Musical

How well do they know the songs? If every song in the worship set is brand new then it’s likely the congregation won’t engage. If the average person attends church once or twice a month it’s likely they won’t know a lot of the music even if it isn’t new.

How much do they like the songs? Musical tastes vary. It’s subjective. Not every person that attends our church on a regular basis would choose to listen to the music we play on a weekend.

Is it excellent? This is about the musicianship, volume, mix, EQ, etc.

Do the lyrics make sense? If I have to consult with a theologian or English professor about the meaning of lyrics then I’m not singing. If the lyrics are too mushy or romanticized then most dudes won’t sing.

5. Visual

Are the worship leaders engaged? This is huge. Authenticity is as important as excellence. If the people on stage look like they’re not into what they’re doing then how do we encourage the people in the seats to engage?

Are there any distractions? Lights, moving graphics, people, lyrics being incorrect, camera angles, etc.

I don’t think this list is exhaustive. The point is this: there are many factors to whether or not someone will engage in the corporate worship music we sing at church on a weekend. Some of them we can control – the environment, the culture and the production. We are responsible as church leaders, not just the worship leaders, to create an environment where people can see Jesus and let their guard down; then we trust God to do what only He can do.



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

Posted in Creative Arts, Leadership


7 Multisite Myths


The church I lead at has been multisite now for more than 3 years and we’re currently working on opening up our 4th campus. I also work with churches across the country with the Unstuck Group and often field questions from church leaders about going multisite. In those discussions I’ve come to realize there are a whole list of misconceptions floating around out there about the multisite movement. Here are a couple of the more popular ones I get.

#1 Multisite is only for Mega-Churches

Currently in America there are just at about 1,600 mega churches (churches of 2,000+ in weekend attendance), but there are more than 8,000 multisite churches across America. In other words the multisite movement is outpacing the mega-church movement. And the average size a church goes multisite is when they hit 1,200 in attendance. That’s 800 short of the mega-church label.

#2 Multisite means Video Teaching

Not so fast. Early on in the multisite movement video was the way many multisite churches were delivering weekend preaching. That number has shifted and now it’s at about a 50-50 split of multisite churches that use live teaching and churches that use video.

#3 Multisite will Grow our Church

As my friend Jim Tomberlin likes to say, “Multisite is not a growth engine, it’s a growth vehicle.” In other words it’s a strategy to deliver growth, not drive it. If you’re not already healthy, multisite will not make you healthy. If you’re not already outsider focused, multisite will not make you outsider focused. Multisite will just make you more of what you already are. In other words, get healthy first…then go multisite.

#4 Multisite is Cheaper than Church Planting

Not so much. At the church I serve at we do both church planting and multisite. When we begin a church plant we typically fund it at $100k. I’ve seen the average number to start a multisite at $250k and higher. However multisite campuses grow faster and have a higher survival rate than church plants do.

#5 Multisite only works in Large Towns & Cities

A friend of mine, John Fuller, pastors Prairie Lakes Church, a multisite church in Iowa with 6 locations. They’ve got a campus in a town of 40,000 and campus in a town of 3,000 and everything in between. So yea, it works in small towns too.

#6 Multisite will never work for people Over 55

Today I was over at our Tempe Campus and stepped into our traditional service. When I say traditional service, I mean a full on traditional service with a choir, hymns, and a more traditional chapel environment. As you can imagine the demographic of the room is older and is marked by mostly grey hair (at least they have hair, I’m envious). That service just like the modern service on the Tempe Campus this weekend was video teaching, and it’s working.

#7 The Campus Pastor needs to be a Rock Star

You’re looking for a Campus Pastor not a Church Planter. They’ve got to bleed the DNA of the existing church not want to live out the DNA of their dream church. Based on your teaching model they may not even have to have a preaching gift. You’re looking for a leader not just a shepherd, they have to be able to build something.

What are some other common misconceptions you’ve heard or have had about the multisite movement? Leave a comment!

Interested in learning and growing as a leader in a multisite church? Don’t miss the opportunity to be a part of my next Leadership Coaching Network focused specifically on multisite church leaders. Follow this link to learn more!

Photo Credit: kevin dooley via Compfight cc

Posted in Leadership


Last Chance to Join a Leadership Coaching Network!

Time is running out for you to get in on the Leadership Coaching Networks that are getting ready to begin at the Unstuck Group! We’re always excited about the start of new coaching networks, but this year, we’re more excited than ever, and here’s why.

The team has introduced two new types of coaching networks, and these are designed specifically for leaders who want to grow their churches — either with a multi-site strategy or by taking intentional steps to reach the milestone of 500 in weekly attendance. All groups meet once a month for six months, and focus on giving you practical, applicable coaching. With that said, all participants are expected to be actively engaged and ready to tackle real issues.

Here’s what we have going on:

1) Leadership Coaching w/ Tony Morgan | ATLANTA or DALLAS
Leadership Coaching includes training on a variety of ministry strategy topics including staffing, leadership development, communications, financial stewardship, volunteer team development, weekend services, ministry structure, discipleship, multi-site and more.

2) Multi-Site Leadership Coaching w/ Paul Alexander | PHOENIX
Our Multi-Site Coaching Network is designed for leaders of multi-site churches, to help them grow in leadership and succeed in addressing the unique challenges they face.

3) GrowthSolutions Coaching w/ Mark Meyer & Chad Hunt | OMAHA or INDIANAPOLIS
Our GrowthSolutions Coaching Networks will help leaders of smaller churches take intentional steps towards growing their church to 500 in weekly attendance. 

In our coaching networks, you can expect a relational experience built around simple and practical systems and tools to help you take your next steps as a leader. We take a look at best practices in growing, healthy churches, and we press into tough conversations to help you get unstuck in your leadership and ministry impact.

If you’re considering joining us here are some things to keep in mind…

This is not an opportunity for someone who is looking for inspiration: These coaching networks involves work. You can’t just show up. You will have to commit to six months of reading and engaging exercises with the ministry team at your church.

This experience isn’t for people looking for leadership theory: Yes, you’ll learn some leadership skills, but this experience is designed for you to put those skills into action. Every month you will leave with new tools to implement in your ministry environment.

This is not a conference experience: In a conference, you can sit and soak in the teaching without engaging anyone else. In this coaching experience, you will be encouraged and challenged by other leaders who will be counting on you to participate fully.

Most groups are limited to 12 participants, so if you want in, you should consider signing up soon. Click here for more info and to register. The deadline to apply is March 6, 2015.

Posted in Leadership
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