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Why People Volunteer at some Churches but not at others

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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.

#1 High Challenge

They don’t just make an announcement, they don’t just ask, they don’t simply provide the opportunity to serve, these churches challenge people to serve. What comes natural to us is ourselves and these churches combat self-oriented thinking with a high challenge to put faith into action by serving others. They know that you can not serve God without serving people.

#2 Flexibility

Ever notice that people are busy? Most people don’t have hours and hours per week to volunteer at your church. Churches that engage the most volunteers understand this and they are flexible. They don’t’ require volunteers to be involved in everything, instead they invite them to be involved in what they can be.

#3 Fewer Paid Staff

These churches actually have fewer staff, not more staff. Instead of paying people to do ministry they pay staff to lead volunteers. Churches that get stuck loading up on staff end up dealing with the unintended consequences of having staff doing everything and church attenders watching them instead of joining them.

#4 Say Thank You

It’s so simple to say thank you, but so few churches actually do it. I’m not talking about saying thank you from the stage (although that’s not a bad start), but in a personal face-to-face conversation, a handwritten note, or even walking through the kids ministry area during service and popping your head into each kids ministry classroom and saying thank you in the moment.


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Volunteers

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3 New Leadership Coaching Networks for Church Leaders!

“The only way to get different results is to engage different systems.”

The Unstuck Group’s Coaching Networks will challenge you to take your next steps to grow your leadership gift.

This fall, we’re inviting you to discover the shifts that need to happen in your strategies and systems to lead at the next level.

  • Are you trying to break a growth barrier?
  • Are considering launching your first campus?
  • Are you currently leading a multisite church and looking to learn best practices?

My friend Tony Morgan, along with a few other members of The Unstuck Group’s team, will host three new leadership coaching networks that bring like-minded church leaders together to learn about best practices in growing, healthy churches and challenge each other to get unstuck in leadership and ministry impact.

  • We’ll take a look at best practices in growing, healthy churches.
  • We’ll press into tough conversations to help you get unstuck in your leadership and ministry impact.
  • We’ll help you discover the shifts that need to happen in your strategies and systems.

Here are the network topics:

Reaching 1,000 & Beyond (Atlanta)

Reaching 2,000 & Beyond (Dallas)

Multisite Leadership (Atlanta)

Each of these networks is a nine-month, collaborative coaching experience comprised of three in-person gatherings and six live, virtual meetings. >> Get more details

Learn more about the network content, dates and cost by following this link.

If you want to be a part of this, apply asap. Those spaces are already going fast. (In fact, as of this morning, 3 churches have already secured their spaces in the Multisite Leadership network.)


Posted in Leadership

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Leading with Authority without Abusing Authority

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You don’t have to look very hard in society to find examples of people in authority abusing their authority. Unfortunately in the church where you’d expect things to be different it seems like it rarely is. In a recent conversation with a church leader they asked me if they really had to be a jerk to get things done and be a successful leader in a church? I don’t think they do and I don’t think you do either. It’s possible to lead with authority without abusing authority.

#1 Positional Authority

We follow people who have positional authority in our lives because we have to. They’re in a position of authority in our lives such as a parent, teacher, boss, or ranking officer. We follow these people because if we don’t there are unpleasant consequences that we’re forced to deal with.

#2 Expert Authority

We follow people with expert authority because of the wealth of experience or knowledge that they have. These people have something that we don’t and are recognized as experts in their field, which naturally places them in an authority role. We listen to them because they have something that we want.

#3 Moral Authority

We follow people with moral authority because we want to. These people don’t ask anyone to do anything that they’re not willing to do themselves. They know it’s not wise for them to do every job in the organization while understanding that no job in the organization is beneath them. They serve the organization instead of having the organization serve them. They lead out of who they are and allow people close enough to them to see that they are who they are all the time and in every setting.

Jesus could have led with positional authority after all He is God in the flesh. But He didn’t. Jesus could have led with expert authority after all He created everything that exists and is pretty much the expert on…well everything. But He didn’t. Instead Jesus led with moral authority. He submitted to His Father in the garden saying, “not my will but yours be done.” He said, “If you want to be first you have to be last,” and He put our needs in front of His own. He said, “Take up your cross and follow Me,” and He went to the cross first.


Posted in Leadership, Staffing

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10 Articles that will Help your Church Make Vision Real

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Thank you for making July 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!

If it’s not on a Screen it’s not Multisite

It may be multi-congregational or even a family of churches, but it’s not a multisite church.

How many Staff 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.

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.

Vision is a Destination NOT a Statement

Vision is a destination, not a statement. Many churches spend an incredible amount of time wordsmithing pithy vision statements instead of providing a clear picture of where they’re going. What a majority of churches view as their vision statement is usually a mission statement.

9 Reasons I’m Still Married after 20 Years

Lisa and I recently celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. And while sitting on a white sand beach under an umbrella overlooking the ocean (don’t hate) we talked about these 9 reasons why we’re still married, and legitimately enjoying our marriage more than ever, after 20 years.

How to Develop the Young Talent on your Church Staff

A lot of people are talking about a leadership crisis facing the church. Where are the next generation leaders going to come from to pick up the mantle of this movement called the church? While many are fretting and talking about it few are doing much about it.

How to Speed up Decision Making at your Church

After working with over 25 churches across the country this past year, I realized there is a common challenge that growing churches face. It’s a challenge that frustrates leaders, slows progress in critical areas, and causes an undercurrent of strain between teammates. This challenge is lack of clarity around decision making. When churches are small, and there are a few leaders who lead the church, it’s pretty clear who makes what calls. But as churches grow and more leaders are added to the team, it’s not long before confusion sets in around “Who gets to make what decisions”. Often all decisions start to feel like we have to have total consensus to move on anything. Did I mention frustration sets in?

The Difference between a Shepherd and a Leader

I love helping churches and leaders get unstuck and make vision real. In fact out of all the stuff I get to do with churches and leaders one of the things I enjoy the most is Leadership Coaching. Recently I had the incredible opportunity to spend a day coaching a group of Pastors and Church Leaders from Australia (unfortunately their cool accent didn’t rub off). One of the topics we spent time digging into was the difference between shepherding and leading in relation to why some churches are stuck while others move forward. Here are couple of thoughts from the conversation.

Why the Key to Flexibility in Leadership is Planning

A good plan that can’t be changed is a bad plan. If you’re inflexible you’re going to find executing a plan to be nearly impossible.

Managing the Tension between Culture and Control in a Multisite Church

When you break it down, there are only two core approaches to multisite alignment. You can either lead through culture or you can lead through control. Which approach is best for your multisite team? Understanding their five differences can help you decide.

Photo Credit: justin fain via Compfight cc


Posted in Leadership

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9 Reasons I’m Still Married after 20 Years

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Lisa and I recently celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. And while sitting on a white sand beach under an umbrella overlooking the ocean (don’t hate) we talked about these 9 reasons why we’re still married, and legitimately enjoying our marriage more than ever, after 20 years. We hope there are a few ideas in here that may help you have a more intimate friendship with your spouse.

#1 We Prioritize Each Other

We decided a long time ago that our friendship is more important than any other friendship we have. We choose to say no to girls or guys weekends away in order to say yes to time together. I’m not saying Lisa never goes out with her girlfriends or I never go fishing with some guys, but what I am saying is our time together comes first.

#2 We Calendar Together

We have four kids. One plays volleyball, one is in orchestra, one plays soccer and one is 3 years old. We’re busy. Not to mention I’m in full time local church ministry, I do consulting with the Unstuck Group, and Lisa is going back to school to change careers. Did I mention we’re busy? But who isn’t? The difference is we calendar on a regular basis and run our calendar instead of allowing our calendar to run us (most of the time). Our friendship is our greatest priority. So we sneak breakfasts together when we can, we spend time on the patio out back after the kids go down, we go on dates…just the two of us, and we drop each other texts throughout the day.

#3 Keep the Lights on in the Bedroom…

Our bedroom life is more enjoyable today than it was 20 years ago. Of course the 20 years of experience doesn’t hurt. Along the way we’ve had to learn to talk about what we are comfortable with and uncomfortable with, what we enjoy and what we don’t, how to serve one another, be vulnerable with each other, and talk honestly with each other. And, yes, there were times that we even had to schedule bedroom time. The bottom line is if you don’t like each other outside of the bedroom, you’re not going to enjoy one another in the bedroom. By the way one small bit of advice: if you don’t like your bedroom life there’s no one to blame but the two of you, because you’re the only ones in there. You may not be able to change what’s been done to you in the past, or what you’ve done in the past and what you’ve brought into your marriage, but you get to choose how you move forward in the future.

#4 Vacations…with NO Kids

We go on vacation every 5 years without the kids (sometimes we sneak a night here or there in between). I’m a bit of a planner and for those who know me, you know that my wallet can be a bit a little tight at times. So we save up for 5 years and then go on a big vacation, just the two of us. It’s a great feeling to go on vacation and do what we want to and not worry about money or a big credit card bill that’s looming out there, because we planned for the vacation! And it prioritizes each other. I like my kids, but I like time alone with my wife.

#5 We Asked for Help when we Needed Help

I’ve written many times about the struggles Lisa and I had early on in our marriage. There’s a reason we didn’t have kids during the first 8 years of our marriage, we didn’t treat each other very well. But we got help. At different points we both demonstrated the embarrassing humility, and courage it takes to be vulnerable, put ourselves out there and ask for help. Which meant spending a lot of money on counseling. We were blessed to have trusted friends and mentors who believed in us, cared for us, and invested in us. It was expensive, it was hard, but it was worth it.

#6 We Don’t have Intimate Friendships with people of the Opposite Sex

This may sound a bit old fashioned and uber conservative but we don’t have serious friendships with people of the opposite sex. For example if I’m out of town and the battery dies on the minivan she doesn’t text the neighbor without including me, or their spouse in the text. Note to self: get used to group texting. We don’t go out to meals with the opposite sex, we don’t ride alone in the car with people of the opposite sex and even at work if I’m meeting with a woman alone at work I’m in a room that has a glass window in it.

#7 We Choose not to Compare our Marriage to Others

Social media has made it easy to play the comparison game when it comes to marriage. It’s easy to become enamored with what things appear to be like in someone’s marriage and become frustrated with your own. Lisa and I often remind ourselves of something our Pastor, Chad Moore said, “Don’t compare the image others are projecting to the reality you are hiding.” Instead we choose to compare ourselves with the standards that the Bible describes for love, friendship, and marriage. It’s no coincidence that when you do things the way God designed life to work how well life works.

#8 We Take Care of our Bodies

Neither one of us will ever be accused of being supermodels. My knees hurt when I run…so I don’t. My wife on the other hand has done the Chicago Marathon, the Air Force Marathon, and a litany of other races. She can run me into the ground, but I exercise on a consistent basis. It’s important that each of us stay in decent shape. We want to look attractive for our spouse. Each person has a different idea of what “attractive” means, and so we talk about what each other likes and do our best to meet those ideas.

#9 We Take Care of our Souls

It’s hard to love someone else well if you don’t love yourself well. That’s not selfish it’s Biblical. Jesus even said, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” And so we give room to each other to take care of our souls. That may mean simple things like time alone golfing or fishing, time at the spa, going through a Step Study at Celebrate Recovery, going to church together as a family, encouraging and talking about each others spiritual journey…soul care.


Posted in Family, Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Testimonial