Is your Church Designed to get Stuck?


Your church is perfectly designed to get the results you’re currently getting. You’ve probably heard that said before. That means if your church is stuck it’s probably because it’s been designed to be stuck. Now I know you didn’t do that on purpose, I know you want to reach as many people with the Gospel as you possibly can. But churches get stuck because they’re designed, by intention or neglect, to be stuck.

All kinds of churches are designed to be stuck. It happens when they execute a plan that leads them to become stuck. You could say that they purposely do it on accident. They’ve planned their work and successfully worked their plan, it just hasn’t resulted in success that they thought it would, instead it results in being stuck. There are a lot of ways churches are successfully designed to get stuck…here are a few:

#1 Over-Controlling

Okay, so that’s not really a word. I just couldn’t think of another way to say it. But it doesn’t matter, it’s true. Sometimes the reason a church is stuck is because they are led by a controlling leader. Every decision must go through them, they always have the best ideas, and it always has to be their way. That always leads to things slowing down and getting stuck.

#2 Over-Structuring

When structure begins to out pace growth, churches end up getting stuck. You may end up with a great, efficient, and stable structure but your church will only grow to the capacity of the structure you’ve created. Great structure is designed to chase growth not the other way around.

#3 Over-Staffing

When churches hire staff to do ministry instead of develop people and lead teams (you know the whole equip the saints to do the work of the ministry thing that the Apostle Paul talks about in his letter to the Ephesians) it leads to churches getting stuck.

#4 Over-Extending

Some churches are very eager to take ground, so much so that they actually over-extend themselves. It’s ironic that in their intention to take new Kingdom ground that they actually can lead themselves to becoming stuck. You see sometimes they stretch themselves too thin through taking on too much debt, running too many ministry programs, or hiring too many people that they actually prevent themselves from moving forward.

#5 Over-Educating

When churches confuse discipleship with education they get stuck. They may successfully educate people about the bible but that just leads to greater biblical knowledge, not action. If information changed people’s lives, then no one would ever smoke and the cigarette industry would go bankrupt.

Have you inadvertently designed your church to get stuck? Need a little help changing things up and getting unstuck? Contact the Unstuck Group. We’ve been helping hundreds of churches get unstuck for the last couple of years. We could help your church too.

Posted in Leadership


What do I do with that One Particular Person the Team?


I’ve talked to all kinds of church leaders serving in all kinds of churches across the country about building the right teams with the right people to make the unique vision that God has given them for their church become reality. Inevitably the conversation seems to always drift towards talking about this one particular person on their team. The question has come up so frequently that you probably have this person on your team as well.

The conversation usually goes something like this, “I’ve got this one person on the team. They’re really talented, they’ve produced some good results but there’s something about them.” Sometimes the church leader will be courageous enough to be really honest and say, “I’m not sure I even like them being on the team anymore. Sometimes I even find that I make excuses to myself and others for their behavior.”

They seem to do just enough to stay around. They’re dysfunctional but not overtly so. The fear of exiting them from the team is heightened often in a church because they have relationships with some important people and letting people go in a church setting seems to always be messy, sometimes even risky. Then there’s the energy and time that would be spent to find someone new and get them up to speed. Many church leaders in this situation end up feeling stuck.

Then the final question comes, “I’m not sure what to do with them. What do you think?” Well, you’re not alone, everybody has this person on their team…and I’m glad you asked. But one of the things that separates good teams from great teams is great teams deal with these people instead of letting them stay around forever and hold the team back.

The key indicator that you have this person on your team is that they don’t take personal responsibility when the conversation comes up.


When you’ve tried to talk about this with them in the past they just deny it. It’s not just that they see things differently than you do, they refuse to see what you see. Often in church world we do this to ourselves. We do a better job of letting stuff build up over time and not coach specifics in real-time so we’re left to discuss vague generalities instead of measurable specifics.


Another common response when the conversation comes up is deflection. They start rattling off a list of excuses that deflect responsibility of their behavior to their circumstances or other people around them. The tough thing is that if you listen to them long enough there is often a shade of truth in their deflection and some of their excuses begin to make sense. Which usually leads to them staying on the team a little longer.


Another way people respond poorly is by “shooting the messenger.” When confronted with feedback they aren’t ready to hear or are unable to accept it’s not uncommon for people react in a manner that is disproportionate to the conversation. That often comes out in anger.

Talking to this kind of person won’t help the situation. Many of you have tried and it hasn’t gotten you anywhere. You can’t coach this kind of person because they don’t want to receive any coaching. So, what do you do when you have this kind of person on your team?

Specific consequences

When dealing with these kinds of team members you’ve got to come to terms with what they actually need from you as their supervisor. They need you to provide clarity and specifics on what it is you expect them to change, as well as clarity and specifics on what is going to happen if they choose not to make those changes. They cannot be successful unless you provide that to them. That’s your job. There a number of natural consequences that they may experience including being placed on a 30-day performance improvement plan, a suspension, or it could even be as severe as losing their job.

Give them a choice

Once you provide them with options you’ve given them the power to make a choice. At that point, they get to choose whatever they want. That’s their part. They can change their approach and their behavior and avoid discipline or not. Whether they choose door #1 or door #2, it’s their choice, and you’ve given them the opportunity to be a part of the team or leave the team.

Follow Through

If they don’t follow through, you need to. Simply put, do what you said you were going to do. If they choose to continue their poor behavior and approach, they are communicating to you that they no longer want to be on the team. So, give them what they want.

Posted in Leadership, Staffing


Why I Love Working at Sun Valley Community Church

Every year at Sun Valley Community Church we share wins from the previous year of ministry and I thought I’d share them with you. I hope this is encouraging to you, inspires you, and prompts you to pray for the ministry of Sun Valley.

I know that ministry isn’t all about the numbers, it’s about life change. That’s why I’m excited about these numbers, because they represent lives that are being changed.  These numbers below represent stories of people who Sun Valley has helped meet, know and follow Jesus.

  • 902 people said yes to following Jesus
  • 763 people were baptized
  • 334 households took the “90 Day Challenge” and started tithing for the first time
  • 2,588 people grew in their relationship with Jesus by being in a Small Group
  • 2,532 people made a difference with their life by serving on a Volunteer Team
  • 1,581 kids and students were impacted through camps
  • 409 people went on a short-term mission trip
  • Over 1.5 Million Dollars went outside the 4-walls of Sun Valley Community Church to help people all over the world meet, know and follow Jesus
  • We opened a campus in Queen Creek and it has averaged 1,256 in weekend attendance during their first year. That campus also just broke 3,000 on Christmas Eve
  • We grand opened our permanent location in Casa Grande (they were set up and tear down…the campus is pretty stoked about it…so am I) and have grown and averaged 479 in weekend attendance since the move
  • Sun Valley was recognized as the 28th fastest growing church in the country and 65th largest church in the country

You’re allowed to celebrate right along with us. The Kingdom of God is taking ground through the ministry of Sun Valley! If I didn’t work at Sun Valley, I would go to Sun Valley. I’m really honored to be a part of what Jesus is doing at Sun Valley, it’s legitimately the most fun I’ve every had in ministry! This year I celebrate 7 years on Staff this year and I’m looking forward to many more to come!

So pray big prayers and take big risks, because we have a big God, and He still does big things! I’d encourage you, if the Lord brings us to your mind, pray for us as we continue to help the thousands who don’t yet know Jesus meet, know, and follow Him.

Posted in Leadership


Why People Don’t Invite their Friends to your Church

There are a lot of reasons people go and check out a church for the first time. Maybe someone they know gets married and they go to celebrate their wedding or someone they know passes away and they go for the funeral. It may be that they already go to church on a regular basis and they move to a new area and are looking for a new church, or they decide to leave their old church for any number of reasons and are trying to find a new one. It may be that they saw some clever marketing from your church and decided to try it out or there is some crisis going on in their life and they think they might find some answers at church. Like I said, there are a lot of reasons people check out a church for the first time.

For all of those possibilities, the number one reason people attend a church for the first time is still because a friend personally invites them.

If your church is serious about growing and reaching new people you’ve got to figure out what is keeping people from inviting their friends. While many church leaders blame their people for not inviting their friends because they’re not “spiritually mature enough” or don’t have a “deep burden” for the lost I’d suggest it may be less complicated than that. It may be your fault.

#1 Quality Matters…a lot

I know churches don’t like to talk about this but it’s an unavoidable truth if you really want to reach and introduce new people to Jesus. I’ve been in too many churches whose facilities have not been maintained, they’re fresh out of 1978 and it’s not on par with other public space in their community. I’ve seen too many churches with someone leading worship on stage that just can’t sing. I’ve also been to too many churches who claim to be friendly but if you’re not an insider no one ever talks to you. I don’t think any of those churches intended to push away guests, but they did. Where did we get this idea that intent supersedes experience? I think we’ve misread the Scriptures that teach us that while man looks on the outside that God looks on the heart. The fact that God looks at the heart should challenge us and the fact that man looks on the outside should also challenge us! I don’t think that scripture in particular is a judgement statement in so much as it is a simple observation and fact. I could go on, but I think you get my point.

Question: Is what we are offering our guests quality? Are people not inviting their friends because they’re embarrassed to? How could we do less but do it with greater quality?

#2 New People bring New People

In John chapter 4 an entire village of people meets Jesus. Not because a missionary or pastor went to them or someone went through an evangelism training course but because of a simple invitation. A woman who had known Jesus for all of a couple of minutes invited everyone she knew to meet Him too. She was “new to Jesus.” New to Jesus people don’t need to be sequestered from their friends who don’t know Jesus and placed into some training program and then “sent” back out. They need to be encouraged to simply invite their friend to Jesus. Most people in our churches who have been around Jesus the longest invite the fewest people to Him (seems a little wrong if you ask me…but what do I know). This usually happens because over time they hang out with less and less people who are unfamiliar with Jesus. They wake up one day and all of their friends are Christians.

Question: Do we have new people at our church, and are we investing more in new people or in people who have been around for a while?

#3 Guest Comfort Level

Now I’m getting really shallow. I know. But like it or not if guests aren’t comfortable they aren’t going to be a lot of them at your church. There are a lot of things that can make a guest feel uncomfortable at your church. I’ve been to churches that don’t ever mention guests in their services. I’ve been to some churches that had really poor signage and I had no idea how to navigate the facility. I’ve been to churches that ask guests to remain seated during the service so regular attenders can come say hello (yea, there is no way I’m doing that). I’ve been to churches that tell people if they want to get into a small group to go see Cindi and I’ve thought to myself, “Who’s Cindi and where am I supposed to meet her if I want to get into a Small Group?” Churches are notorious for making outsiders feel like, well…outsiders. And then they wonder why guests don’t come back.

Question: What insider behaviors and language do we use that makes it difficult for outsiders to gain access to Jesus?

#4 Fun

Now I’ve probably finally gone off the deep end with this one. But if your church isn’t fun, if people don’t laugh, they simply aren’t going to invite their friends. No one invites their friends to stuff that isn’t fun. If kids don’t have a good experience at your church, you might be doing it wrong. If people don’t laugh at some point you might be doing it wrong. Jesus was actually really funny by the way. Jim Rayburn the founder of Young Life said, ”It’s a sin to bore a kid.” If that’s true then a lot of our churches might be in risk of sinning. Hmmmm… (yes I said people may not invite their friends to your church because it’s boring)

Question: Do people have fun when they come to our church? What can we do to help church be a fun experience?

If you’re a courageous church leader it may be worth your time to get your Sr. Leadership Team together to discuss where in your community people invite their friends to go with them to. Seriously, make a real list on a white board or something. Then make another list of all the reasons people invite their friends to go there with them. Then finally compare that to your church…you may be onto something at that point.

Posted in Leadership


Top 10 Church Leadership Posts from 2017

Posted in Leadership
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