Tag Archive - build


Changing the Culture of your Church

“Culture” is the latest buzz word in church world. Everyone seems to be talking about how to build a healthy culture and avoid a toxic one. But how do you know what your church culture actually is and how can you change it if you don’t like it?

A church’s culture is set by the defining set of values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of the Sr. Leadership Team. This could be the Sr. Staff, a Board, Deacons or a group of Volunteer Leaders depending on the size and nature of the church.

Culture is something that is usually unnoticed, unspoken, and unexamined, particularly in churches. Especially by those inside the church. As a result, few churches ever take steps towards intentionally defining and building a desired culture; instead it usually happens by default. It’s very common to see churches fall into ruts and get stuck in the familiar traps of, “just preach the Word,” “just reach people,” or “just build disciples.” The problem is building a healthy culture in a church; particularly a healthy leadership culture is never “just that easy.” Every church already has a culture, but most of them are built on accident. As the leader you have to create the culture. If you don’t it will default to the strongest personality or loudest voice in the room.

Decide to:

You have to decide to change the culture. You have to decide what you don’t like about the existing culture…what behaviors, attitudes, decision making filters, beliefs or values are wrong and need to change? Seriously…make a list of what frustrates you about the culture of your church and must change to become a better version of what Jesus has in mind for it?

You Get What You Tolerate:

You get what you tolerate. Really. If there really are bad behaviors, attitudes, values, or other things about the culture that are “off,” they’re “off” because the Sr. Leader or Sr. Leadership Team has allowed it to be “off.” If you tolerate behaviors and attitudes that subvert and grate against the culture you’re trying to build, then you’ll never build the kind of culture you’re hoping for.

Starve the Past:

Starve the past. Kill it if you have to. The best way to change a culture is to build a new one. Simply start behaving and making decisions through the filter of the new culture you’re working to build. By attempting to take slow incremental steps to change the culture, instead of change you’re left with confusion. Much like a “blended worship service style,” nobody is happy. Frustration sets in because no one knows how to behave. In shifting, culture clarity is king. People need the leader to provide clarity as to how to act, make decisions and so on in this new framework.

Leverage Catalytic Moments:

Culture isn’t built in a moment but in a series of moments over time consistently leveraged to move things in the same direction. However, there are a few moments that have the opportunity to offer course corrections. Anything new has the opportunity to shift things significantly. The hire of a new Sr. Pastor or Sr. Leader, new board members, a new building, the start of a new ministry year, new vision clarity, a new worship service, or a new approach to ministry. Moments like these create windows of opportunity to significantly shift the culture.

Posted in Leadership


Top Posts of 2017 #9 “5 Proficiencies of Great Church Staff Teams”

Hiring and building the right teams was a popular topic on my blog this year. This one was one of the most read and shared.

Great Church Staff Teams are full of team members who not only care deeply about people and are passionate about the ministry; they’re actually proficient in what they are doing. I actually believe you can fake passion for a while until your heart catches up. But you can’t fake proficiency. You’re either proficient or you’re not. That being said, I’ve been a part of Church Staff Teams for more than 20 years and the ones I’ve been on that are the best are always proficient in these 5 core areas:

#1 Team Player

Great Church Staff Team Members care more about the team than they do about themselves or their own standout performance. They’d rather the team win than get personal recognition for their individual contribution to the win.

#2 Specialty

Great Church Staff Teams are full of role players. They know what they’re brilliant at and they lead in those areas and they know what other team members at brilliant at and they submit in those areas. They play their specialized role well.

#3 Modeling

Great Church Staff Teams are built with people who lead with moral authority. They don’t just say, “Do as I say,” they model behaviors that they want replicated throughout the entire organization. They go first and inspire others to follow through their actions, not just through their words. 

#4 Follow Through

This may sound simple, but it’s actually unfortunately rare. Great Church Staff Teams are made up of people who do what they say they’re going to do. They deliver on time over, and over, and over again. They can be trusted to do what they say they’re going to do. They follow through.

#5 Communication

Great Church Staff Team Members communicate early and often with each other. Instead of surprising one another they manage expectations through communication. Everyone doesn’t have to know everything on great teams when great teams communicate with one another.

Posted in Leadership


Why a Teaching Team is a Better Approach to Teaching at your Church

Although the idea of a teaching team is not a new idea, I’m surprised at the amount of churches across the country that have not embraced this approach to preaching in their weekend worship services.

Don’t hear what I’m not saying:

  • I’m not advocating that you use the “main stage” to develop communicators. Don’t experiment on your church. Instead develop communicators in other ministry venues than the weekend worship services. There can’t be a big “drop off” in gifting from the primary preacher to others on the teaching team. Otherwise internally people are going to be saying, “oh no, not this guy again.”
  • I’m not advocating that you water down or muddy your unique culture. It’s not helpful to have preachers on the teaching team that have completely different styles or theological perspectives. Preaching is the primary way culture is built in a church so keep the same approach and same “voice.”
  • I’m not advocating that your main preacher speaks less than 35 weekends a year (+/-).
  • I’m not advocating that you have too many voices on stage, more than 3 can get confusing.

In today’s world communicators aren’t just compared to other preachers they’re compared to other communicators including comedians, late night show hosts, TED talks, and every other great preacher in the world that anyone can listen to on the internet. Developing a teaching team is simply a better approach to teaching.

It keeps Communicators Fresh

Preaching week in and week out, 52 weeks a year is a grind. Very, very, very few preachers on the planet can be great 52 weeks a year, year after year. A teaching team helps great preachers preach great sermons. Not only do they get time to work on their sermons and prepare better content, but they can work together on the content and delivery preparation.

It keeps Engagement Up

No matter how good of a communicator your pastor is, they only have so many stories. More voices on the stage keeps engagement up because your church body hears things different ways from different people. Also, if you do this well, you can engage a younger audience by having communicators on the team who are younger than the primary preacher.

It Teaches the Church it’s not all about One Person

Building a great teaching team teaches the church body that ministry isn’t just about or built around one superstar with a great teaching gift. Rather, the body, when it works together as a body and you lean into everyone’s unique gifting actually takes more ground and functions better. Remember, the team always outperforms the individual, this is also true in teaching teams.

It sets you up for Succession

Every pastor is an interim pastor. One day they will no longer be the leader or the preacher. Someday, somebody else will step in and pick up where you left off. A teaching team helps make this transition easier for the church to embrace.

Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Staffing


How to Build a Strong Volunteer Culture in your Church

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve never coached a church leader or consulted with a church that said they had enough volunteers. In fact, most church leaders I speak with identify a shortage of volunteers and volunteer leaders as one of the top 5 issues holding their church back from reaching the vision that Jesus has given them. It doesn’t have to be this way. You can build a strong volunteer culture at your church by implementing the following 8 principles.

#1 Celebrate Volunteers

You’ve probably heard me say that what you celebrate gets repeated. Ask any parent who’s potty training their kid and they get this principle. I’m pretty sure that’s why God invented M&M’s. That same psychology follows us through life. What get’s celebrated gets repeated. Want a strong volunteer culture at your church, then celebrate volunteers and the great stuff they do. You know what? They’ll do it again and more people will want in on it, because it feels good to be celebrated.

#2 Connect Volunteering to Discipleship

You’ve probably heard me tell the story about the time I was asked to lead a Jr. High Small Group. I was scared to death. Not because they were Jr. Highers, but because I had to be prepared, I had to be further down the road than them and know what I was talking about. I grew so much by leading that Small Group. I think we forget how much spiritual growth takes place as a result of volunteering. Instead of viewing volunteering as roles to be filled to run a church, volunteering should be viewed as a part of the spiritual pathway of our churches. It’s a subtle yet significant shift that needs to be made in our thinking for the sake of the spiritual formation of the people that have been entrusted to us. When you start viewing volunteering as discipleship the way you treat your volunteers changes quickly.

#3 Don’t Hire too Many Staff Members

At the Unstuck Group we’ve discovered that there is a direct connection between the amount of money a church invests in staffing and the number of people who volunteer. What we’ve found in our research is that the as a church increases its spending on staffing the number of people volunteering decreases. Translation = if you want more people to volunteer at your church hire less staff members.

#4 Make it Simple

Most churches make it more difficult to volunteer than most employers make it to get a job. Get rid of the multipage applications, the class that you make people attend, the spiritual gift tests, and the long interviews. Instead let people start volunteering. The leaders will naturally rise to the top. People will gravitate towards areas of ministry they’re passionate about and gifted for. When someone asks, “Can I volunteer?” the answer should always be, “Yes!” Then tell them where and when to meet you to start volunteering. Disclaimer: it’s always wise to background check anyone working with minors or money in any capacity.

#5 Make it Fun

Is it fun to volunteer at your church? People want to be a part of fun stuff. Fun is underestimated and undervalued in most churches. And yet fun can change people’s attitudes, it makes teams contagious, and it keeps people coming back for more. If it’s not fun to volunteer at your church you might be doing it wrong.

#6 Pay your Staff to “Lead People” not “Do Ministry”

Stop paying your Church Staff to do ministry. Instead pay them to lead people. As a Church Staff Member no job should be beneath you, but you shouldn’t do every job either. Unless they’re in a very specialized and technical role, Church Staff should be evaluated on how many volunteers they’re enlisting and how many leaders they’re developing. It’s amazing to me how many times people in ministry forget the basic principles that the Scriptures teach; for instance that the job of the Church Staff is to, “prepare God’s people for works of service” (Ephesians 4:11-13).

#7 Connect Volunteering to Life-Change:

The unspoken expectation of people who volunteer in a church is that they want to see people’s lives changed. They’re life has been changed by the love of Jesus and they want to be a part of that for others. When you celebrate life-change in your church always try and connect it to people who volunteer. This will help people in your church connect the dots between life-change and volunteering and people will want in on that.

Posted in Leadership, Volunteers


The 2 Most Important Ingredients of a Winning Team

You’ve probably heard this popular African Proverb before:

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

The reason this statement has become so popular and “gone global,” is that it resonates with us at a core level. We inherently know that it’s true; not just from a tactical team building framework, but this is the way God designed life to work.

If you’ve ever played on or been around a winning team you know how much fun it can be. You also know that winning teams are rare, only one team wins the championship each year. You also know that winning teams don’t just happen on accident. They’re built with great intentionality. So as you’re in the process of mixing the right ingredients to build a great team, make sure you mix in the 2 most important ingredients to building a winning team:


Trust is built up close and over time. It’s more given than earned. But it’s given to people who have a proven track record, because the best predictor of future success is past performance. We know what to expect from each other and trust that we are each going to play our role at a high level.


While great teams are composed of great players, those great players know how to keep their ego in check. Great players are great not just because of their talent level, but they put the team first. Which means they do what’s best for the team instead of what’s best for themselves or their career. They’d rather be a role player on a championship team than a star on a mediocre team.

Posted in Leadership, Staffing
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