Tag Archive - book

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[Webinar Replay] The Unstuck Church – Why Churches Grow, Thrive, Decline & Die

Recently, The Unstuck Team had a conversation about something we are really passionate about: The Unstuck Church. Every church has the potential to go through a very similar life cycle. Over time, most start, grow, thrive, decline, and eventually end. Through this webinar, we unpacked the stages of the church life cycle and answered questions like:

  • Do all churches hit all phases?
  • Where do growing churches typically get stuck moving toward sustained health?
  • What does sustained health look like?
  • What are the early warning signs a church has entered the maintenance season and started to decline?

If you missed out on our conversation about The Unstuck Church, you can check it out here:

Looking for resources to learn more?

Take our free Unstuck Church Assessment. You can take it individually or invite your team members to participate. This online tool is designed to help you best determine where your church sits today in its life cycle and your next steps.

Order The Unstuck Church. As we mentioned on the webinar, Tony Morgan’s new book, The Unstuck Church: Equipping Churches to Experience Sustained Health, goes in-depth on all seven stages of the typical life cycle of a church.


Posted in Leadership

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The Unstuck Church: An Interview with Tony Morgan

UnstuckBookInterview from Paul Alexander on Vimeo.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Tony Morgan, the Founder and Lead Strategist at the Unstuck Group, to talk about his new book The Unstuck Church.

In the conversation we discussed:

  • The 7 Phases of a Church Life-Cycle
  • Do all churches go through all 7 phases?
  • What does it take for a church to reach “Sustained Health?”
  • What are some early warning signs that a church has entered into the “Maintenance Phase” and is getting ready to decline?
  • It it possible for a church to get stuck in the “Momentum Growth,” or “Strategic Growth,” phases, and what does that look like?
  • Is it possible for a church to recover once its entered the “Preservation,” or “Life Support” phases?

Follow this link to pick up your own copy of The Unstuck Church!

Tony is founder and chief strategic officer of The Unstuck Group, a company that helps churches get unstuck through consulting and coaching experiences designed to focus vision, strategy and action. For 14 years, Tony served on the senior leadership teams at West Ridge Church in Dallas, Georgia, NewSpring Church in South Carolina, and Granger Community Church in Indiana. He’s written several books, as well as articles that have been featured with the Willow Creek Association, Catalyst and Pastors.com. He writes about leadership regularly at tonymorganlive.com. His next book, The Unstuck Church: Equipping Churches to Experience Sustained Health, from Thomas Nelson is now available.


Posted in Leadership

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Five Ways to Help Your Small Groups be Successful

The following is a guest post by Chris Surratt. Chris is a ministry consultant with the Unstuck Group and has over twenty-two years of experience serving the local church. Most recently, Chris served on the Executive Team at Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN. Before coming to Cross Point in 2009, Chris was on staff at Seacoast Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Chris’s first book, Small Groups For The Rest Of Us: How to Design Your Small Groups System to Reach the Fringes, will be released by Thomas Nelson on September 29, 2015. You can find Chris blogging regularly at www.chrissurratt.com on the subjects of community, discipleship and leadership.

Whether you are starting from scratch at a brand-new church plant or blowing up a large system at an existing church, there are some principles that can help set up your new plan for success down the road. Here are five guidelines to think through.

1. Define the Win

Every ministry has to decide what its win looks like, and this is especially true for groups. If you don’t know what success looks like, how can you celebrate it? As you dream about what groups could look like at your church, start with the end in mind. What results would you like to see if your system works perfectly? Andy Stanley says, “Your system is perfectly designed to get the results you’re getting.” If my church is not producing disciples, there’s probably a systems problem. If only a small percentage of the congregation is involved in groups, it’s probably a systems issue. If we are not developing enough leaders to keep up with our growth, it probably has something to do with our leadership development system.

2. Choose a Champion

I talk to a lot of small-group pastors who cannot get any traction with groups at their churches. The first question I ask is, Is your senior pastor in a small group? Almost every time the answer is “no.”

It’s not impossible to build a successful groups system without the senior leader being fully on board, but it’s extremely difficult. The congregation is going to take its cues from the leaders, and if the senior pastor is not engaged in community, they will follow his lead. It does not matter how much he talks about the importance of groups from the pulpit if there are not consistent stories circulating from his own small group.

3. Put It in the Budget

When it comes down to budgeting for small groups, a lot of churches follow the example of Pharaoh in Exodus:

That same day the king gave a command to the slave masters and foremen. He said, “Don’t give the people straw to make bricks as you used to do. Let them gather their own straw. But they must still make the same number of bricks as they did before. Do not accept fewer.” (Exodus 5:6–8)

We are asking our point people for groups to build a successful system without the necessary straw but still expecting big results. As much as we want to believe community happens organically, it still takes resources for them to be strategic and effective.

4. Make It Scalable

Your church may never triple in size overnight (although it could), but now is the time to start planning for God to do the unexpected. What happens when you activate your first all-church campaign and suddenly need to triple the number of current groups to meet the demand? Do you have enough coaches? How difficult is it to become a small-group leader? Can you fast-track the vetting of new leaders? You should always be ready to go when God moves.

5. Make It Replicable

Think through not only what could be replicable across different locations, but also what do small groups look like in different layers of your church? The heart of student and kids ministries are small groups, and those ministries can benefit from partnering with the adult groups system for training, leadership development, and structure ideas. What if the same team that develops Sunday message studies works with the student leaders on theirs? What if a few adult group leaders mentor small-group leaders in the kid’s ministry? Replicating successful systems will help break down silos within a church.


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation

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Does Your Church Have Ministry Silos?

Ministry silos are one of the most common dysfunctions in churches across our country, and they hinder ministry health and growth.

If you’ve ever been in a church with ministry silos you know it. People and ministries share the same roof but do nearly everything in isolation. Outside of Sundays, they rarely combine their efforts. Like members of a dysfunctional family, most church staff members know their team isn’t healthy, but they’ve learned to cope and get by, living separate lives within the same house.

My friend Tony Morgan at the Unstuck Group has just released a new eBook on this topic — 7 Warnings Signs Your Church Has Ministry Silos: Triggers and Symptoms of a Divided House. It’s available today on Amazon or from the TonyMorganLive.com store. The launch of this book has been so successful that it hit the Top 5 Christian Leadership Book List on Amazon!

It’s not hard to tell when a church has silos. The difficult part is discovering and eliminating their true causes. This eBook explores the triggers and symptoms of a “divided house” so you can identify the steps your church needs to take towards greater unity. Download it today!


Posted in Leadership, Staffing

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The Prodigal God

Prodigal God

About a year and a half ago Tim Keller, Lead Pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, wrote a book called “The Prodigal God,” and yes, I’m just now getting around to reading it. In fact my wife and I both read it this past weekend and I’ve got to say that it has absolutely reframed Luke chapter 15 for us.

Traditionally in church-world we have focused merely on the rebellion of the younger brother and the grace given to him by a loving father as he seemingly repents of his waywardness and returns home. Tim Keller blows such a surface read of this parable out of the water and lays out for the reader that there are two ways to be alienated from the father, two ways to be your own savior and lord. In one way we do so by being rebellious and very bad. In the other we accomplish the same aim by being obedient and very good.

The truth of the matter is neither one of these brothers truly loves the father, they’re both lost. The older brother obeys and claims to have done everything right, and in doing so believes that because of his righteous performance that he deserves a reward from the father. The younger brother comes to the father only to get what is owed to him (albeit a bit early) in order to go out and spend it on himself. Neither of these brothers truly cared about the father or about the things the father cared about. They cared only for themselves, in that they cared only about what they could take from the father for themselves.

What really struck a nerve for me though was how he contextualized the story of these two brothers with the previous two parables in Luke 15, the story of the lost sheep and of the lost coin. In which both instances describe someone who went looking for something that was lost, found it, and subsequently there ensued a celebration. In the story of the two brothers, no one goes looking for the “lost son.” The person that should have gone, the older brother, was too busy tending to his responsibilities and “obeying” his father. How many times do we become so busy doing work for our Father that we forget that the heart of our Father is not bent so much towards our acts of righteousness or even obedience but towards the lost son? See, what keeps the father up at night is not the one son who is tucked in safe and sound at home. But the one is out who knows where, doing who knows what, with who knows who! Those who truly understand the heart of the father and aren’t just interested in what they can get from him are moved into action by what moves his heart. So if what truly keeps the father up at night is the lost son, then we’ve got to ask ourselves, do we find ourselves out looking for anyone? Or have we simply taken the approach that if we build it, they will come? Do we find ourselves chasing after people who look like us, dress like us, and have the same socioeconomic status that we do? Or do we ever find ourselves chasing after those who have spent their money on women and pleasure as though we were chasing down a long lost member of our very own family? In church-world I believe we’ve forgotten the fact that the church doesn’t exist for us, we are the church, and we exist for those who have not yet met the father.

At the end of the story ironically enough, the brother who should have been searching was the one that ended up lost and never made it to the party.

And if I’m gut level honest with myself, it’s scary to think about how many times I’ve fallen into the comfortable trappings of older brother thinking.


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation