A New Leadership Podcast I’m Listening To

There are literally dozens of excellent podcasts you can subscribe to for insights from well-known pastors, authors and leaders. If you’re already listening and learning from some of those podcasts I think you should probably keep listening to them.

For this new podcast, we wanted to offer you a chance to learn from pastors just like you who are taking significant steps to get unstuck. The team at the Unstuck Group is in hundreds of churches each year, of all different sizes and denominations. I think we have a unique perspective and unique access to stories that will both encourage and challenge you right where you are now.

In each episode of The Leadership Unstuck Podcast, we’re going to share three things:

1) Insights from Pastors

We will interview pastors about specific challenges and wins they’ve experienced in aspects of church leadership we believe are essential for getting unstuck.

2) Practical Next Steps

We’ll build on the same topic in a practical conversation with members of The Unstuck Group team to give you ideas for your next steps.

3) Laughs

We’re going to have some fun… because you need to laugh more.

Our aim with this is to bring you stories you can relate to that inspire hope. But we also know hope alone is not a strategy, so we’ll always take the conversation to practical next steps.

We can’t wait to get these first episodes out to you. We’re working hard and should have them out on iTunes and Google Play this month.

Opt-in here, and we’ll email you the links to the first two episodes as soon as we release them.

Posted in Leadership


What Growing Churches do Differently


It’s not faith, it’s not luck, and it’s not some leadership secret. Growing churches are actually doing something differently than the other 80% of churches in America that are stuck or declining.

At the Unstuck Group we work with 100’s of churches every year and we’ve discovered that growing churches are actually doing some very tangible things differently than other churches. Below are just a few of them.

1. Staff Led

Look at the statistics across America and you’ll discover that growing churches have very few congregational votes. These churches are Staff led instead of Board led or Congregationally led. Practically speaking that is because Church Boards are part-time thinkers and they simply don’t have the time to give to a full-time job of running the church. As a result decision making and implementation slow down because the staff are constantly catching the Board or the church up on the past instead of leading the church into the future. I know this isn’t always an easy transition for churches to make. I’d suggest you pick up a copy of High Impact Church Boards to read through with the Board at your church and get the conversation started.

2. Intentionally Develop Leaders

Growing churches develop leaders at an exponential rate compared to most churches in America. They do this intentionally, not just “organically,” (which is code for we don’t have a plan and we hope it somehow magically happens). They don’t just use people to fill volunteer roles, they see volunteering as an essential part of the discipleship process. They delegate responsibility and empower volunteers with real ministry decision-making power. They develop some kind of formal content that is specific to the culture of their church and train up and coming leaders in that content. This allows them to hire from within instead of hiring from outside and jeopardizing their culture.

3. Embrace Technology

Growing churches embrace technology. This may simply be evidence that they are more likely to change methodology based on effectiveness more readily than other churches and that they are open to new ideas. But whatever the case they are embracing the use of technology through social media engagement, online marketing, big data, video teaching, and use of technology in weekend worship services. This isn’t new. I don’t think it’s a mere coincidence that the protestant reformation took place during a similar time period to the printing press and the Bible being translated, printed in the hands of the everyday guy. With advancements in technology come opportunities for advancements in the Gospel for churches that embrace them.

4. Clear Strategy

Growing churches don’t just hope and pray for growth, they plan for it and build a clear actionable strategy to grow. Hoping your church will grow won’t make your church grow and growing churches understand this. They develop clear strategies (strategy answers the question “How are we going to do this?”), to help them get to their vision (vision answers the question “Where are we going?”). This informs all of their decision-making and allows them to align resources (people, time, money, facilities, etc.) to get them where they believe Jesus has called them to go. They’re also fanatical about clarity, because they understand the clearer they can make things, the faster they can go and the more effective they can be.

Interested in getting your church unstuck and growing again? I’d encourage you to reach out to the Unstuck Group. We’ve built a trusted track record and have a proven process to help your church get unstuck!

Posted in Leadership


Tearing Down Leadership Idols in the Church


A quick Google search on “Church Leadership” will turn up literally over 170 million links. That’s a lot of content to dig into on church leadership. For all of the talk about church leadership out there today it sure seems that the church is pretty leadership poor. I know some folks down in Texas that would say that churches have a bad case of “big hat, no cattle.” Another way to say it would be that churches are all talk and no action when it comes to leadership.

With that said, there really are some leadership idols that many church leaders buy into that need to be torn down.

“Leadership is Influence”

If leadership was simply influence than my kids are the best leaders in my house. They’ve influenced the kind of car (or land yacht) I’ve purchased, the house we live in, our grocery budget and so on. While influence is a part of leadership, it’s not leadership. The Bible doesn’t define leadership as influence; it defines leadership as a spiritual gift. Not everybody has it.

“We need to Hire more Staff”

The church of America has been lulled into this idea that they have to hire more staff to do the ministry at their churches. Hiring another staff member may be the worst thing you can at your church this year. Your church most likely doesn’t need more staff to do ministry, rather your existing staff need to learn how to delegate, empower, and develop your church body to stop just coming to the church but be the church. Your church is full of competent and highly talented people who actually get paid to perform complicated jobs. Chances are they have a lot to offer at your church too. 

“Preachers are Leaders”

Just because you’re a gifted communicator doesn’t mean you’re a gifted leader. It means you’re a gifted communicator. Young church leaders are taught (more by the prevailing church ministry model in the U.S. than by the Bible) that if you want to lead in a church then you have to do it from a stage, and if you’re not a gifted communicator then your not a gifted leader. That’s simply not true. Leadership is not just about inspiration and instruction (what happens from a stage). It’s also about being up close and over time with people and taking them from where they are to where they need to be. There’s more to that than stage. And frankly I’ve seen some fantastic preachers who can’t lead themselves or anyone else out of a wet paper bag.

“Leadership is Power”

Great leaders don’t simply amass and wield great amounts of power, rather they have the uncanny ability to share power and give it away to others. Barking out orders doesn’t endear people to you. You get more when you give, even in the economy of leadership.

What are other “leadership idols” you’ve seen in churches? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear your insights!

Photo Credit: Pondspider via Compfight cc

Posted in Leadership


Church Leadership and the Illusion of Control


Church leaders are supposed to be the best kind of leaders, right? Caring, humble, courageous, strong, and selfless. The term controlling probably wouldn’t make a top-10-list of attributes to describe the ideal church leader. Now I know you’re not a control freak, I mean you’re way to godly for that. But if you’re on a church staff I’m sure you’ve served with a control freak at some point. And control freaks are dangerous, especially in the church.

The other day my 11-year-old daughter was asking me about a group of people she perceived to be controlling. With the innocent insight that only a child seems to have she said, “In the books I read people who are controlling are usually the bad guys.”

So here’s to hoping that you never turn out to be a “bad guy.”

Control is an Illusion

I’m about to say something that’s going to be difficult for some of you to hear. You’re not in control. I know you think you are…but…you’re not. Control is an illusion. I know all of you’re calendaring, budgeting, planning, organizational charts, and administrating tell you that I’m wrong. But I’m right. Those things lull you into thinking you’re in control and provide the illusion of control. It’s comfortable, like a warm blanket. But don’t be seduced into becoming a control freak. You’ll be in for a very rude awakening one day.

Jesus isn’t a Control Freak

Jesus is a gentleman. If you want to go down a path that isn’t good for you or others around you, He’ll actually let you do that. He may be sad for you because the choice isn’t the best for you, but He’s not going to freak out or fret about your choice. He most likely isn’t going to rescue you from the consequences of your decisions but He’ll let you make them. Even when He knows how life is designed to work and you choose your own way.

Your Policies can’t Control Outcomes

I know that you think your policies will make everybody behave the way you want them to and make everything run like a predictable well-oiled machine but unfortunately they won’t. I know that statement is hard for some of you to read, I’m sorry. I really am. I wish it weren’t true, it be easier if it weren’t true. But it is. Your policies might help you mitigate some risk, they may help you institutionalize the culture you’re trying to build, but they won’t control outcomes. No matter what policy you have in place, if someone wants to do something stupid, they will. Oh, and when you do try to control everything with over policying (I don’t think that’s a word) things, you’ll actually drive your most talented team members away.

Your Team needs to be Unleashed not Controlled

I know you think you’re pretty special, truth is you are. But Jesus has gifted your team with some pretty incredible gifts too. In fact I bet they have gifts that you don’t have. Controlling leaders stifle fun, innovation, and ultimately production. Your team needs to be empowered and unleashed to be who Jesus has created them to be. That’s when they’ll have the most fun and you’ll get the greatest results. The sad, and very dangerous, thing is controlling church leaders actually stifle personal growth in others and the expansion of the Gospel.

The Only thing you can Control is your Attitude and your Effort

The good news is there is something you can control, and that’s you. You are responsible for what happens inside of you, how you respond to life, and the actions you take. Every moment of every day you have the incredible opportunity to control your attitude and your effort. There’s not much that you can actually control and change, but you can control and change you. Truth is, that’s probably enough. Much more and it would probably be a bit overwhelming.

Photo Credit: fishbulb1022 via Compfight cc

Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Staffing


10 Articles that will Help Your Church Make Vision Real


Thank you for making August another great month here at Helping Churches Make Vision Real! It’s great staying connected with you 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 posts from this last month. If you missed out on any of them, here they are all in one place for your convenience!

10 Insider Focused Ministry Names

The language we choose to use is important because it both reflects and builds culture at the same time. And one of the most obvious ways to tell if a church is insider focused or outsider focused is the language that they choose to use. It either says that the church is “inclusive” or “exclusive.”

Why People Volunteer at Some Churches But Not at Others

Ever notice that a lot of churches feel like a spectator sport? You know, the kind of place where people sit around watching the paid staff do everything. The average church in America engages around 45% of their average adult and student attendance in some kind of volunteer role (check out the Unstuck Group Health Assessment for more info like this). But there are those churches that are above average. The top 10% of churches somehow seem to break all the normal statistics and engage more than 70% of their average adult and student attendance in some kind of volunteer role. Here are a couple of things they do different.

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.

Leadership Summit 2016: Bill Hybels

If you missed the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit this year, no worries I’ve got you covered. I’ll be posting my notes and thoughts from each presenter over the next couple of days. Willow Creek Community Church Founder and Senior Pastor Bill Hybels opened the Summit addressing The 4 Lenses of Leadership.  The following are leadership quotes and lessons from this incredible session.

My Top-10 Church Leadership Posts of All-Time

I’m about to drop a secret on you about my blog. What keeps me going week in and week out is my personal discipline to continue to grow as a leader. This site acts as an accountability tool to keep me consistently thinking about, writing about, and testing my leadership thoughts and ideas. I don’t keep doing this for a platform, I keep doing this because I want to keep growing, so in essence you, the reader, get to have a sneak peak each week into my online, public, leadership journal. Over the years some posts have been more useful than others to readers. So I thought I’d share some of the most helpful articles over the last 6+ years with you. Happy reading!

The Art of Execution

Highlights from a leadership talk by Chad Moore, who serves as the Lead Pastor at Sun Valley, about bridging the gap between vision and reality. The art of execution. Here are some of the best highlights.

8 Reasons Why People Don’t Volunteer at your Church

’ve never worked with a church that has said they don’t need more volunteers. But I’ve worked with a bunch of churches that have trouble getting people to volunteer and stay engaged volunteering.

How to Change the Results at your Church Before they Happen

Churches measure what happened all the time. We measure what the attendance at last week’s worship services was, we measure what the offering was, we measure how many people were in groups last week, how many people served last week, and so on the list goes. The tough thing is you can’t change what just happened at your church last week. Most of the key metrics we look at are all about what has already happened. But what if there were things that we could measure that were indicators of future performance?

10 Signs your Church is Headed for Decline

What if there were early warning signs (flashing lights on the dashboard) that helped indicate that trouble was ahead? In my experience Coaching Church Leaders and Consulting with Churches across the country I’ve seen the following 10 indicators of an impending decline over and over again.

4 Bad Habits that Young Church Leaders Need to Break

Before you read this, please understand that I love and am for young leaders. After all, I was one once. But there are some really bad habits that young church leaders are exhibiting that need to be broken if they have any hope or chance of having the deep and broad Kingdom impact that they’re dreaming of.

Photo Credit: justin fain via Compfight cc

Posted in Leadership, Staffing
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