Your Church isn’t Deep Enough


If you’ve led in a church setting for any length of time you know that people will eventually leave your church. People leave churches for all kinds of reasons. Some get new jobs and move away, some disagree with a leadership decision and leave, some don’t like a change in worship music style, some go to another church because that’s where their friends go, some fall into sin and walk away while others leave because it’s not deep enough for them anymore.

In my work consulting with churches and coaching church leaders this, “it’s not deep enough” phrase is becoming more common. And honestly it concerns me. Not because the majority of churches aren’t deep enough, but rather that a majority of people who are trying to follow Jesus misunderstand what spiritual depth really looks like. In fact I’ve already written a couple of posts about this that you can check out:

I’ve heard a lot of Pastors get frustrated with this, “it’s not deep enough” phrase being flippantly thrown around. Now I get that it’s easy to take that statement a bit personally if you’re a Pastor. Yes, some of these people are consumers and need to “grow up” but some of them are genuinely interested in learning more about the Bible and what it teaches and simply don’t know how to express that without saying they’re leaving because your church isn’t deep enough. But people need to be led to greater clarity on what spiritual maturity looks like.

It might be that our content-centric model of church has taught people that content equals spiritual maturity. In other words, the way we are doing church may be contributing to the problem.

It’s not the first time in history that people got upset in a church because it wasn’t deep enough. People have been spouting this complaint since the moment the church started. The Apostle Paul actually addressed this same issue in a letter he wrote to the church at Galatia (it’s called the Book of Galatians). A group of people called Gnostics were telling these young Galatian gentile converts that their version of Christianity wasn’t “deep enough” and they needed to, in addition to the Gospel, observe Jewish law, in particular, they needed to be circumcised. Personally, I could see how that could be a bit of a deterrent to the spread of the Gospel and more people, especially guys, following Jesus.

There is nothing “deeper” than the Gospel. As Christians we’re invited to start with the Gospel and stay with the Gospel. Nothing needs to be added to the Gospel, it is complete in and to itself. There is no deeper teaching in the entire Bible or for that matter in all of history than the Gospel. Trying to add to the Gospel is what got the early Church in trouble and it’s one of the ways that Satan continues to attack the Church today.

So the next time you hear someone say that their church isn’t deep enough it might be worth asking them what they mean by “deep.” They may be trying to add to the Gospel without realizing it.

Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation


Recent Thoughts about Church Planting from Ed Stetzer


Last week Sun Valley Community Church (the church I have the privilege of serving at) hosted Ignite, the national church planting conference for Converge, which is one of the most successful church planting movements in the country.

While there Ed Stetzer, who among other things serves as the Executive Director of LifeWay Research had the following to say about church planting.

  • There is no biblical mandate to plant churches. The bible never says to plant churches. But it is implied. The whole New Testament is about church planting.
  • Most church plants don’t cross the 100-person threshold until year 4.
  • If we are not careful, church conferences can become “ministry porn” because of the unrealistic expectations it creates about reality.
  • Church planting is becoming increasingly more expensive.
  • As a church planter if your answer is “if the money doesn’t come through then I won’t plant the church,” then you probably shouldn’t plant the church if the money comes through.
  • If God calls you to do a thing you do a thing because Jesus calls you to do it.
  • Don’t be so committed to getting people out of the community you’re planting in that you forget to bless the community.
  • You need to know more about your city than anyone else…you can’t love a people if you don’t know a people
  • One of the modern dangers of church planting is that it’s possible to plant a church in a “non-relational way” today in a way you couldn’t years ago. That’s not what Jesus had in mind when He talked about the discipleship/relationship building movement He died for.
  • Plant a church that actually reflects true religion. Jesus came to serve and to save (true religion as defined in the book of James).
  • Serving the hurting is not Gospel proclamation it’s Gospel demonstration.
  • Today we are planting more churches than we are closing in the U.S.
  • I care more about Church Planters than I do about church planting.

Posted in Leadership


10 Articles that will Help Your Church Make Vision Real


Thank you for making February a 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!

Campus Constants for Multisite Churches

Last week the Unstuck Group hosted a successful webinar, “Making Multisite Work” with Tony Morgan, Warren Bird and members of the Unstuck Group. During that webinar I mentioned a “Campus Constant” document that we use at Sun Valley, a large multisite church in the Phoenix Metro area that I have the privilege of serving at, that helps us remain clear on our multisite model. During the live chat on the webinar we received multiple requests for me to share that document. So to make it easy I figured I’d just share it here for you.

5 Indicators that your Church is Financially Overextended

Immature organizations over extend themselves financially and self impose artificial lids as a result. Earlier this fall in a post entitled “Breaking Through your Capacity Lid,” I wrote that financial shortfalls at churches can limit opportunities. I suggested that there are two sides to finances in a church setting. One is building a culture of generosity in your church and then the other is managing that generosity so you position yourself organizationally to say yes to Jesus when He provides clear vision and opportunity

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.”

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.

How Much Should your Church Pay Your Pastor?

A couple of years ago I wrote a post called, “How Much Should We Pay Our Pastor,” that went on to become a pretty popular post, primarily because most churches have no idea what a fair compensation package is for their pastor or any member of their church staff. Fortunately for Churches seeking to answer this question some new data has just been released this week!

Defining the Leadership Culture at your Church

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” – Peter Drucker Every organization has a culture – attitudes they want adopted, values they want championed, beliefs they want instilled and behaviors they want reproduced. Leaders are the cultural architects of any organization.  Eventually every organization takes on the character and priorities of its leaders.  As a result, leaders need to become intentional in creating culture.

10 Articles that will Help Your Church Make Better Hires

Recruiting and hiring a new team member can be exciting! Hire the right person and the whole team benefits. When you invite the right person to join your team not only is there an infusion of new talent, but also new ideas, fresh eyes, and a new well of experiences to go to. One new hire can literally improve the performance of the entire team. On the other hand, hire the wrong person and the ministry at your church could be set back for years. Over the years I’ve written quite a bit about hiring and building staffing strategies in a church setting. Here are some of the more popular posts.

5 Reasons People Don’t Sing at your Chuch

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.

8 Reasons Why People don’t Volunteer at your Church

I’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. This is a critical issue for churches to figure out. The reason why this has to be a front-burner issue is because at the heart of it, volunteering is an essential component of the discipleship process in someone’s life. Plainly put, volunteering is discipleship.

The Difference between Preparation and Planning

Do great organizations prepare for the future or do they plan for it? The answer is, “yes.” To be clear preparation and planning are not the same thing, and great organizations become great by doing both.

Photo Credit: justin fain via Compfight cc

Posted in Leadership


Is your Church like Walmart?


Walmart, with all of it’s success as a company, has continued to come under public criticism in recent years. A quick Google Search will provide a litany of articles about the company devaluing employees in order to pad bottom lines and the big box store “gobbling up” smaller local retailers when they move into a new community. It seems like every town in America has a Walmart. But with all of their expansion and financial success is Walmart headed in the right direction?

I recently read an article in Forbes that suggested despite all of their success the future looks bleak for Walmart. Past wins don’t necessitate future success. Here are a few highlights that made me think about churches that have experienced success in the past but are on the verge of of painful future. Most of them, like Walmart, will never see it coming. Will you?

1. Poor Staff Culture

The church naturally takes on and reflects the culture of the staff. If your church has a hard time keeping Staff, if Staff are viewed more as a commodity to be spent or allocated to get to the vision instead of people to be developed your staff culture will erode. Eventually eroding the culture of your church.

2. Majoring on the Minors

If your tendency is to micromanage when things don’t go according to plan instead of taking ownership and rethinking strategy, your church may very well be headed for decline.

3. More interested in Growth instead of following Jesus

Don’t misunderstand me, I am firmly in the camp that if you’re following Jesus your church will grow. Because Jesus wants His Church to grow. He’d rather more people know Him than less. But if you’re more fixated on growth than obedience to calling and following Jesus then you’re already drifting towards decline…it just hasn’t shown up yet.

4. Refusing to Change

It’s difficult and often painful to navigate change in a church setting. But what’s even more painful for everyone is to have Sr. Leaders refuse to change and doggedly remain steadfast in direction when all the signs point to a needed change in strategy.

5. Lack of Sober-mindedness

When you’ve accumulated a winning track record it’s possible to begin to believe your press clippings. Be careful though. All of those accolades can assist you in losing touch with reality and fuel an undisciplined pursuit of more. Be mindful that you remain courageous enough to listen to the truth and act accordingly.

Has your church become like Walmart? Is what used to work not working anymore? Are you in a growth stall? The Unstuck Group can help you define reality by using a proven method to assess the health of your church and build a new strategy for the future.


Posted in Leadership


10 Articles that will Help Your Church Make Better Hires


Recruiting and hiring a new team member can be exciting! Hire the right person and the whole team benefits. When you invite the right person to join your team not only is there an infusion of new talent, but also new ideas, fresh eyes, and a new well of experiences to go to. One new hire can literally improve the performance of the entire team. On the other hand, hire the wrong person and the ministry at your church could be set back for years. Over the years I’ve written quite a bit about hiring and building staffing strategies in a church setting. Here are some of the more popular posts.

You are Who You Hire

The reason that a new hire is so powerful and pivotal is because people lead out of who they are and the organization or church always takes on the personality of the leader. In other words, you are who you hire. No matter what their skill set, abilities, experiences or personality is; people always lead through the filter of their unique identity.

You Just made a Great Hire…Now What?

Churches are notorious for racing to the finish line of a hiring process, getting the newly hired candidate in the room and breathing a collective sigh of relief. The typical church basically says, “Congratulations, you’re hired! Here are your keys. Now go figure it out.” Once the new hire is made you’re not done.

6 Reasons your Church should use a Search Firm to Make Your Next Hire

Hiring a new team member can be exciting because it means there is going to be fresh eyes on old problems and status quo ministry, new ideas, and a new well of experiences to go to. But sometimes the best move that you can make is to enlist the help of an Executive Search Firm.

5 Reasons I would Never Hire You

While at first pass this post may come off as negative, the goal I can assure you, is to be helpful. I’ve had to say no to more people than I’ve said yes to. My hope is that this post will help move you in the direction where you’d hear me, or someone else, say yes to you in the near future.

5 Common Hiring Mistakes that Churches Make

Churches are notorious for making well-intentioned bad hires. At most churches the hiring process usually goes wrong for one of the following 5 reasons.

6 Principles of Building a Staffing Strategy at your Church

Great teams don’t happen on accident. Over the past 15+ years of working with churches the best hires I’ve seen have always come through a well thought out staffing strategy. Based on that experience the following are 6 principles that I help churches think through when it comes to building a staffing strategy.

4 Steps to Making the Right Hire

Success is rarely stumbled upon, and great teams don’t just happen. They’re intentionally built with a keen understanding of where you are going, and not just what, but whom it’s going to take to get you there. That’s where making the right hire comes into play. The problem is that churches are notorious for making the wrong hire, and the usual culprit is a lack of any semblance of a hiring process.

When a Volunteer should become a Staff Member at your Church

In growing churches it’s not uncommon for high capacity volunteers to serve as and function like paid ministry staff members. Instead of paid staff members I’ve seen volunteers oversee entire ministry segments in a church even attending weekly staff meetings and staff retreats. But when is the right time to hire that person and move them from a volunteer to a paid staff member?

When to Hire from the Outside

In making your next hire the best place to begin is by looking for existing talent that is already inside the church or organization first. For more on that, check out part-1 of this post “When to Hire from the Inside.” But an inside hire may not always be the best hire. In fact here are three overarching principles that will help you understand when it’s time to go outside to make your next hire.

Why Hires go Wrong

When a hire goes right it fosters synergy, movement, and momentum. But when a hire goes wrong there are setbacks, losses, and ultimately the mission suffers. Below are the 2 most common mistakes made by churches, which lead them to making the wrong hires.

This next post is a little extra bonus to follow up on that last one: “What a Hire Gone Wrong will Cost You”

Posted in Staffing