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10 Articles that will Help Your Church Make Vision Real

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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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Stop Blaming your Team for Under Performing

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If you’ve ever managed a team you know how easy it is to grow frustrated when individuals on the team don’t perform well and the team doesn’t get the results you’re looking for. Unfortunately when things go wrong, the first place most leaders and managers look to place blame is on the team. Don’t hear what I’m not saying. Sometimes someone on the team doesn’t do their job and things fail. But the team should be the last place you look to place blame. The first place you should look to place blame is on yourself. When things go wrong on your team, keep the following principles in mind:

#1 Remember You Hired Them

If you don’t like your team, just keep in mind you’re the one who hired them. You knew what you were getting when you brought them on the team, so you shouldn’t be surprised. That is, unless you don’t have an effective process for recruiting and on-boarding new team members.

#2 Be Specific and Clear

Don’t speak in vague generalities. Coach your team on specific behaviors and attitudes. Give them real clarity on deliverables and deadlines. And then hold them accountable to results. One of the worst things at work is to not know what you need to do to be successful. Don’t let you team feel that way. Be clear with them.

#3 You get what you Tolerate

If you don’t like the attitude or performance of your team it’s probably because you’ve allowed (by intention or neglect) them to develop a particular culture. The only one who can change that is you. If you’re frustrated, the good news is you don’t have to stay that way. You have the power to change the team dynamics by changing yourself and how you interact with and lead your team.

#4 Play to their Strengths

One of the fundamental roles of the leader is to put the team players in a role and give them responsibilities in which they can find success. Everyone wants to win, and winning at work feels much better than losing. Help your team feel like their winning and you’ll not only get more done, you’ll have more fun doing it.

#5 Your Approach Matters More than you Think

If you come in guns blazing asking what went wrong and barking about how this can never happen again, people aren’t going to follow you very far. But if you help them improve, develop them, and serve your team by investing in them you may be surprised at the results you get.

#6 Timing is Everything

Coaching while your player is making a play comes off as micromanagement, that’s the wrong timing. It produces pressure and leads to a poor performance. However, you don’t wait a couple of weeks to watch the game tape. You watch it immediately after the game and coach up your players in order to make changes to schemes and performance quickly before the next game. You can’t wait weeks before you address a poor performance or attitude. If you do they’ll think they’re doing a good job because you haven’t addressed it, and when you do they’ll be surprised.


Posted in Leadership, Staffing

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Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit 2016

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If you missed the 2016 Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit, then you missed some great content, great speakers, and incredible ideas that have the potential to shift your thinking when it comes to leadership. But no worries! Now you’ve got all the notes to every session right here at your fingertips for free! Hope you enjoy!

Bill Hybels

Bill Hybels is the founder and Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, IL. He also the founded The Global Leadership Summit, now in over 200 U.S. sites and over 260 cities worldwide including 85 countries opened the Summit by talking about the 4 Lenses of leadership.

Bill Mulally

Alan Mulally served as the President and Chief Executive Officer at Ford Motor Company from 2006 – 2014 shared his principles and practices for teams that work well together. He did a fantastic job of sharing his real-world leadership journey of transitioning from Boeing to Ford.

Jossy Chacko

Jossy Chacko gave a fantastic (and witty) talk at the Global Leadership Summit about Expanding your Leadership. Jossy serves as the Founder and President of Empart Inc.

Dr. Travis Bradberry

Emotional Intelligence is often talked about but rarely understood. Yet it’s one of the most significant performance indicators that you can control that will determine the success or failure you find in your job. Bestselling Author and Co-Founder of TalentSmart, Dr. Travis Bradberry gave a great presentation that will help you raise your E.Q.

Patrick Lencioni

Leadership Summit favorite, Bestselling Author and Founder of the Table Group, Patrick Lencioni, gave a great talk presenting new content about what to look for and how to be an ideal team player.

Chris McChesney

Chris McChesney, Bestselling Author and Executive at Franklin Covey, gave one of my favorite presentations at the Summit this year. The ability to lead teams and organizations to execute sets great leaders apart from good leaders.

John Maxwell

Leadership expert, bestselling author and coach, John Maxwell, dropped a ton of wisdom everyone at Leadership Summit this year and he was as quotable as ever. Here are my notes and take-aways.

Bishop T.D. Jakes

During the Summit Bill Hybels had an incredible interview with Bishop T. D. Jakes who serves as the Founder and Pastor of The Potter’s House.

Dr. Henry Cloud & Shauna Niequist

There is a blind spot that every “Type A” driving leader has when it comes to self-reflection. The Illusions of Leaders: things you think are true about Leadership but aren’t really true

Danielle Strickland

Danielle Strickland who serves as an Officer in the Salvation Army, an Advocate and author provided Summit attenders an incredible challenge to provide spiritual leadership to followers not just leadership skills that you’ve picked up along the way.

Horst Schulze

CEO of the Capella Hotel Group and the Founding President of the Ritz Carlton, Horst Schulze was back at Leadership Summit talking about putting the customer first.

Wilfredo De Jesus

Wilfredo De Jesus, who serves as the Senior Pastor at New Life Covenant Church wrapped up Leadership Summit this year with a spiritual challenge.


Posted in Leadership

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Hope is Not a Strategy

Hoping things will get better at your church won’t help things actually get better at your church. In fact the opposite may actually be true. The Bible says this about hope in Proverbs 13:12

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”

In other words when we place our hope in something that doesn’t come through it makes our hearts sick. Faith isn’t magic. It won’t automatically make your church everything you and Jesus want it to be.

But putting your faith and hope in a well executed plan that will help you your church take steps of obedience in becoming what Jesus wants His Church to be, that’s a different story. That brings fulfillment to peoples hearts and builds trust between church leaders and their congregations.

Plans Don’t Self-Execute

Nothing works until you do. It doesn’t matter how great your plan is, no plan self executes. Every great ministry started as a great idea, but not every great idea turns into a great ministry. Some of the key reasons why things fall apart when it comes time to actually execute the strategy is a lack of simple good old fashion work ethic, effort, follow through and accountability. Nothing works until you do.

You Get What You Tolerate

If you don’t like the way things are in your church today and you’ve been a part of the leadership team for more than 3 years (less than that and you can blame the prior administration) than most likely it’s because you’ve allowed it to be what it is. You’ve tolerated bad or sloppy behavior and it’s become institutionalized in the culture of the church.

The Best Predictor of Future Performance is Past Behavior

If you really want to know what the future holds for your church, if things are really going to get better or not, then start looking at the current and past behaviors and decisions of the leadership team. If you are hoping to get different results with the same tactics and decisions you’ve made before, then your hope is probably misplaced. The best way to predict a better future is to create it with different strategies and actions than you’ve taken before.

Things are Supposed to get Worse

Don’t forget that Jesus Himself described that things would get worse before He came back to make everything right. Things don’t drift towards unity, completion, discipline, success, health, growth, or whatever your picture of “better” is. Things naturally fall apart, grow old, and die. It’s the nature of things post-fall. Left alone, things drift towards failure.

Photo Credit: DieselDemon via Compfight cc


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Staffing

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My Top 10 Church Leadership Posts of All-Time

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More than six years ago I reluctantly began blogging. I started this journey kicking and screaming. I didn’t want to start a blog. After all what would I have to say? Who would listen? Did the Christian community really need another voice in a conversation that already seemed pretty loud to me?

What started as a couple of friends strongly encouraging me (badgering me may be a better way to say it) to share some notes from some leadership training I had done with some groups of leaders has somehow turned into literally hundreds of church leadership articles over the years.

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!

#1 10 Insider Focused Ministry Names

This has always been an important topic to me. I’m convinced that words build worlds (culture) and that nothing betrays (reveals) the true culture of our churches more than how accessible (or inaccessible) our language is to outsiders.

#2 8 Reasons Why People Don’t Volunteer at your Church

I’ve had a bit of a self-admittedly outlier view on volunteerism in the church. I don’t believe that volunteer roles are slots to be filled or jobs in the church to be completed but that volunteering is discipleship and that you can’t follow Jesus and not volunteer. It’s bothers me that most churches just don’t get this.

#3 How Many People Should Your Church Have on Staff?

When I encourage churches to staff at a 1:100 ratio most of them look at me like I’m crazy. But not only is it doable but it’s a better model (for all kinds of reasons).

#4 When is it Right to Leave a Church?

People leave churches for all kinds of reasons. I’ve had friends of mine leave churches that I’ve been on staff at…that’s tough by the way. There are a couple of good reasons to leave a church, but most reasons people give are pretty weak stuff that they end up sprinkling a little “Jesus dust” on to make themselves feel good about it.

#5 6 Indicators You’re Leading an Insider Focused Church

I mentioned that this is an important topic to me & that I’ve written on it a bunch. After all the whole reason I thought the Church existed, like the whole reason God put the Church on the planet was for people who don’t yet know Jesus. What I’ve found is that most churches wouldn’t agree with me.

#6 10 Signs your Church is Headed for Decline

80% of churches in America are either plateaued or in decline. It’s possible to see the signs ahead of time and make changes before you experience decline.

#7 When to Add Another Worship Service at your Church

Many churches are stuck in attendance simply because they haven’t maximized their current facilities and campus. Thinking about adding another worship service at your church? Here are five strategic concepts to consider before you do.

#8 6 Things I Bet You Don’t Know About Your Pastor’s Wife

Every once in a while Lisa, my wife, will let me read my blog posts to her before I post them to get her feedback. Occasionally I’ll get real lucky and she’ll give me some of her insights to add…this one was gold.

#9 5 Core Behaviors of Churches that get Unstuck

One of the most rewarding things I’ve done the last 4 years has been consulting at the Unstuck Group. These core behaviors have come from observing and working with churches across America the last few years.

#10 Why Nice People Kill Churches

This post was written in an airport in Germany a couple of years ago. I was frustrated with people choosing politeness and people’s feelings over the mission of the church…and this is what came out of that frustration.


Posted in Leadership