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Should your Church go Multisite? An Interview with Tony Morgan and Jim Tomberlin

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.

If multi-site is part of your focus this year, consider joining me for The Unstuck Group’s first-ever Multi-Site Leadership Coaching Network. It starts in April, but the deadline to apply is March 6. We only have 12 spots for this network, and they go quick. Find out more and register at TheUnstuckGroup.com.


Posted in Leadership

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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?

We’re excited to share that our research also uncovered two characteristics of churches that lead employees to be twice as committed. While these are certainly not quick-fixes, if leaders focus on creating health in a couple of ways, they can significantly raise the level of commitment on their team. Consider these 2 areas of health that keep employees engaged:

1. Church Health and Growth

Staff members who believe their church is healthy and growing are half as likely to be open to new employment. It makes sense that players on a winning team would be more committed. Many church leaders look to leave when they see their church plateau or decline with little response from senior leaders. If you’re looking to keep great players on your team, you must be willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish your vision. Stay focused on growing your church while developing health.

2. Staff Health and Effectiveness

Great staff members take notice of the people around them. Just 31% of staff members who believe the rest of their team is healthy and effective are open to new employment. That is a significant increase in commitment! Yet many church staffs include one or more individuals causing relational unrest. If you’re unwilling to deal with problem-people on your team, it shouldn’t be surprising when others start leaving it.

Other ways to develop staff health and effectiveness include developing leaders, clarifying wins, setting clear goals, and aligning the structure with the vision. Each of these and more are discussed in depth in our Next Level Teams report, which we’re offering to you at no cost. Click here to download your copy and start increasing staff commitment today.


Posted in Staffing

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10 Principles to Building a Great Guest Experience at your Church

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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.

When we engage churches in a Ministry Health Assessment we help them gain a fresh perspective of their strategies, systems and structures. The process gives churches with a current snapshot of their ministry’s health and steps to best position your church to fulfill your vision. Here’s some of what I’ve learned along the way.

1. Stop Acting like a Church

Instead of learning from other churches, begin looking at other public space that people go to. Visit resorts, restaurants, stores and other public venues that have a great guest experience and have people coming back for more. Take your teams, debrief, and build a list of what you can learn and principles and ideas to transfer to your church campus.

2. Give people the Opportunity to Self-Identify

Guest parking, children’s check-in, a physical guest services location, and communication cards in the program/bulletin are all simple ways to create avenues for guests to self-identify. By a guest self-identifying they are essentially “opting-in” or giving you permission to speak with them. Instead of spamming them you are engaging them in a dialogue with their permission.

3. Ask, “What’s Next?”

It can be frustrating going onto a church campus for the first time. It can seem like everyone else (insiders) already know where to go and what to do. It can be intimidating. Make it easier for people by thinking through a “what’s next” exercise with your team. Imagine a guest drives into your parking lot…what next? Imagine they find the right place to park…what’s next? Asking, “What’s next?” moving through the moment a guest arrives on your campus to the moment they leave will help you create an audit of your guest experience.

4. Make it Personal

It’s a nice touch when I make reservations for my wife’s birthday and we show up at the restaurant to be greeted by a, “Happy Birthday Mrs. Alexander,” (and I don’t mind the free dessert either). The more personal you can make it, the more memorable it will be. Instead of a cookie-cutter guest follow up letter, could you write a personal handwritten note? Could the person who greeted them actually be the one writing it? How about a personal phone call to say thank you for visiting, instead of trying to get them to come back. Think: personal without intrusive.

5. Cleanliness IS Next to godliness

If you go into a restaurant bathroom and it’s filthy, how does that make you feel about what goes on in the kitchen? Build a team and give them responsibility for keeping the facility clean. Don’t just make sure it’s clean, (including the parking lot and sidewalks) for guests when they arrive but make sure the bathrooms get cleaned in between services and the facility is maintained during use.

6. Please don’t have a kid watching my kid

I’m not sure about you, but I have kids. And they’re pretty much the most important things I have on this planet. So when I go to check my kids into a classroom at a church and a young teenager greets me and asks me to hand over one of my kids, I get nervous. Now, do I think teenagers should serve at church? Yep. Do I think they can serve with kids? Sure. But have a responsible adult in the room with them coaching them and interacting with the parents.

7. Engage People BEFORE they come to your Church Building

The guest experience begins before guests ever get to your church campus. More and more people are checking out your church before they ever go to it. They’re church shopping online and gauging whether or not they will attend based on what they can learn about you on your website. So does your church website acknowledge and engage guests? Is it easy and intuitive to navigate? Is the Google map correct? Have you posted a short experience video or brief welcome video from the pastor so guests can know what to expect when they arrive? Can they check-in their kids and actually schedule their visit before they arrive on your campus?

8. Call things what they are

One of the worst guest experiences I ever had at a church was when I was wandering around trying to figure out where to check-in my kids. Fortunately I saw someone walking by with a lanyard on, “Finally someone who can help me,” I thought. When I asked where I should go to check in my kids they pointed and said, “The ‘B’ Building,” and kept walking. Great! What’s the ‘B” Building, I thought. Please call the nursery, preschool ministry, elementary, Jr. High and so on what they actually are. I know you’re trying to be cute and cool with your great church brands but it doesn’t help guests. Clear trumps cute or cool all day long.

9. Don’t Single People Out

There is a difference between acknowledging guests and singling them out. Having guests wear a special name tag, a rose on their lapel, or remain seated during the worship service so everyone else can come by and say hello singles people out. Very few people like to stand out. Remember your Junior High years? Most people will go to great lengths to blend in. So don’t single your guests out at church, or they probably won’t come back again.

10. Follow Through

The easiest way to gain or lose trust is to follow through, or not follow through on what you say you’re going to do. If guests take a step and self identify, then follow up with them. This can be a simple email sent the day of their visit, a handwritten note sent on Monday or a personal phone call. If guests ask for help or information, then give it to them. Quickly.

Obviously this isn’t an exhaustive list, but it is probably a good place to start. What else would you add to the list? Leave a comment!

Interested in learning more about engaging the Unstuck Group and participating in a Ministry Health Assessment? Follow this link!


Posted in Leadership

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Big News for Leaders Who Want to Grow their Churches

Are you ready to push your leadership ability up a notch? If so, we want to help you. In April, our brand new coaching networks will fire up. We always get excited about the start of new coaching networks, but this year, we are more excited than ever.

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.

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.

Here are what some of our past participants have had to say about the experience…

The insights and practical wisdom that came from Tony not only revolutionized how we do ministry and build healthier teams at Breakthrough, but quite honestly, gave me exactly what I needed in a season in which I was ready to call it quits! Tony’s knowledge of systems and strategies is amazing, but it is his heart for YOU, the leader, that is most impressive. Don’t miss out on this opportunity it will change you.”

— Nate Hill
Lead Pastor at Breakthrough Church | Asheville, NC

This coaching network with Paul was one of the most beneficial experiences of my ministry life. The network gatherings were fun, challenging, and full of leadership exercises that provided me with tools to lead more effectively and move people towards a focused goal. I highly recommend this experience!”

— Ira Towns
Executive Pastor at Atlantic Shores Bible Church | Virginia Beach, VA


Posted in Leadership

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Launching Multisite Campuses is the Easy Part

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Jim Tomberlin, a strategic partner of the Unstuck Group and the nations foremost leader in the multisite movement recently said to me that, “Launching multisite campuses is the easier part of multisiting. Managing the inter-campus relationships and the restructuring necessary to accommodate a growing multisite strategy is the more difficult part. Multisite is not for the faint-of-heart!”

He’s right. Every parent knows that the process of making a baby is fun, but once the kids arrive on the screen everything changes. It’s one thing to start a new campus or two. That’s the exciting part. But multisite changes everything. That’s why only a handful of multisite churches ever get past 2 additional campuses. In fact, in their research, Leadership Network discovered that:

“Only 15% of multisite churches get beyond 2 additional campuses.”

You can’t launch new campuses and expect everything to stay the same. It takes courage to restructure and adopt new systems to accommodate a growing multisite strategy. Successful multisite churches are willing to live with the tension between their campuses being both centralized and decentralized at the same time. Decentralization doesn’t mean complete autonomy, and centralization doesn’t mean complete control. It’s a both-and solution.

1. Decision Making

Effective multisite churches push strategic decisions up and implementation decisions down.

2. Accumulation & Transference of Organizational Knowledge

You’ve already paid the dumb tax of learning and leveraging your “ministry best practices.” Great multisite churches take the time to write them down and replicate them.

3. Efficiency

Multisite churches that get past 2 additional campuses learn how to cut out the redundancy in the organization and develop “central service teams” that serve all campuses (for example: one centralized business department, among other things).

4. Innovation

Multisite is an innovation rich undertaking. It’s a nimble and flexible approach to “new markets” where innovation can take place in the smaller risk embracing culture of a newer campus and then learning passed along to more established campuses.

Interested in learning more about multisite? Join the first Multisite Leadership Coaching Network that starts in April!

Photo Credit: JustinJensen via Compfight cc


Posted in Leadership
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