Tag Archive - business

1

What makes a Great Executive Pastor Great?

When I was starting out in full-time ministry more than twenty years ago if you had told me that I would one day serve as an Executive Pastor of a multi-mega church I would have asked you, “What’s that?”

More and more I’m running into young church leaders that aspire to be an Executive Pastor and I’m fielding more and more questions about what young leaders can do to prepare for the role. With that in mind, while this is not an exhaustive list, here are a couple of recommendations I’d make to any young church leader who thinks they may serve as an Executive Pastor (XP) one day.

1. Sober-mindedness

Understand who you are, come to terms with who you are, and then be who you are. It’s not uncommon for young church leaders to think big and want something bigger than they’re able to handle sooner than they’re ready for it. It takes a deep well of experience built over time to serve well in the XP role, not just talent.

2. Submission to Authority

In Matthew 8:5-13 the Roman Centurion demonstrates an incredible XP mindset (seriously click the link and read it). He understands what it’s like to be in authority so he has no problem submitting to authority. Great XP’s submit to the authority of the Lead Pastor. They challenge appropriately, they lead up and ultimately understand what it means to both be in authority and under authority at the same time.

3. Recruit, Place & Develop People

The church is ultimately about people development. The theological term is sanctification, the every day church term is discipleship. Whatever label you want to put on it great Executive Pastors are great at recruiting the right people, putting them in the right seat to succeed and developing them.

4. Organizational Alignment

The best XP’s I’ve ever been around have an uncanny sense of alignment. They’re playing chess not checkers. They’re constantly working and reworking the organizational alignment (staff, finances, facilities, communication, and ministries) of the church so it doesn’t become a lid to growth.

5. Fill the Gap between Vision and Reality

Great Executive Pastors fill the gap between vision and reality. In other words, they’re strategic in nature. They think “how” are we going to get “there”? But they’re not negative about that “how.” They’re solution oriented.

6. Get Theological and Business Training

It takes a heart for theology and a head for business to be a great XP. If you’ve got more of a business background then get some solid theological training. If you got a theological background then go get your MBA.

 7.The Church isn’t a Business

The Church isn’t a business. It has a clear mission from Jesus about why it exists, the best ones have clear vision regarding where they’re going, and they have strategies to align staff and other resources around. There are a lot of things that “smell” like a business in the church (after all the book of Proverbs in the Bible too), but it’s not a business. The church is the Body of Christ, it’s the family of God. The goal is not to make shareholders happy by having a strong bottom line, it’s life change.


Posted in Staffing

0

5 Reasons Why Churches Avoid Developing a Strategy

 

There is a popular phrase often attributed to Peter Drucker that says, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” After a time of careful research, I discovered that there is actually no evidence that he ever made this statement. In fact, there is no evidence that any leadership guru ever said it. It appears many different statements from several leaders were merged together over a period of years. Thus, “culture eats strategy for breakfast” burst onto the scene. And with its arrival came the notion that strategy is really not that important in leading an organization…

But nothing could be further from the truth. It has been my privilege to serve in the ministry for over 36 years. Decades of up close and personal observation have yielded some basic conclusions as to why so many churches and ministries in America are so opposed to developing strategy.

There are two misconceptions about strategy that often lead churches to discount it:

1) “Strategy quenches the Holy Spirit’s spontaneity.”

I grew up in a church that handed out a bulletin every Sunday with a service-order script for the Holy Spirit to follow. So I understand that you can actually become “over-structured” in planning. However, as I moved on to a more “Spirit-led” church, the pendulum swung in the opposite direction of just casually going with the Holy Spirit. The belief was that a truly Spirit-led service/ministry had no structure because God is a spontaneous God.

Think about that for a moment. The thought that God is spontaneous is implying that God suddenly thought of something that He had never thought of before… But everything about His nature is founded in a purpose and plan. Therefore, we need to consider this balance in our approach to ministry.

2) “Developing a strategy is using secular business practices.”

Somewhere along the line, our church leaders have adopted the mantra of separation of church and state as a scriptural mandate. Many spiritual leaders believe that it is somehow compromising to use solid business principles in the strategic development of the church.

The actual underlying concept of separation of church and state was developed to keep the government from interfering with the church. It does not mean we cannot use proven leadership principles to help our ministry grow. Solid strategic practices are not secular or spiritual.

Misconceptions aren’t the only reason churches avoid strategy. Here are three other reasons:

1) Strategic thinking requires honest evaluation of our current condition and effectiveness.

It is my opinion that we fall short at this point more often than not. It is much easier to blame outside forces for our lack of impact and growth than to take an honest inventory of our (in)effectiveness in reaching our lost neighbors.

For example, when our team helps churches assess their staffing and structure, we have church leaders complete the Leading From Your Strengths assessment to get a clearer picture of the strengths on the team. Most churches have gaps in key strengths that God has given leaders to better lead the church. By better understanding where those gaps exist, a church staff can make strategic decisions about future hires and how to structure the current team.

The truth sets us free according to Jesus. Yet, many of our ministries spend a considerable amount of energy avoiding the truth. Taking an honest look can often be the catalyst of developing new and effective ways of reaching our community.

2) A strategic plan to impact a community will often “rock the boat” of our current comfort.

A thorough study of Jesus’ teachings in the New Testament will reveal that He never offered His followers a life of comfort and ease for following Him. In fact, His command was take up your cross and follow Him daily. The daily cross-bearing isn’t comfortable. But it is fulfilling!

I actually had a church board member say to me, “I would rather this church shut down than change what we are doing!” Eventually, the church dissolved and gave its assets to another ministry. The leadership was so ingrained in the comfort of what God had done in the past that they could not entertain the thought of Him doing something new in the future.

3) A written strategic plan brings accountability.

Research has proven people are more able to remember things written down than remember what they heard. I can side-step being held accountable when I avoid putting a plan down in writing. This also means I will probably never accomplish what is possible!

Writing down the strategy does not necessarily mean I have figured out everything. But it does put a methodical process in place that moves me closer to actually accomplishing the goal. The Bible says in Habakkuk 2:2, “And then God answered: ‘Write this. Write what you see. Write it out in big block letters so that it can be read on the run.’”(MSG)

Putting the plan on paper is a great way to bring clarity and unity to your team.

Maybe some observant leader actual developed the mantra “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” And it may be that your current ministry or organization is experiencing this today. If so, here is a radical idea: develop a strategy to change the culture! I promise it will not happen quickly or without some pain. However, I do promise it is a necessary step in fulfilling your God-given calling and purpose.

If you’d like support in developing your strategy and vision, our team would be happy to help. Take a look at our 4-phase process and start a conversation. We’d love to hear from you.


Dale is a consultant/facilitator with over 35 years experience. He has served in a variety of roles from founding/directing a Christian music group, special events coordinator at a Christian radio station and as lead pastor for 12 years. He’s currently executive pastor of The Mill Church in Pickens, SC. His passion is to help small/medium size churches become healthy. He and his wife Gina have been married for 35 years and have three daughters, two sons-in-law and a recent grandchild!


Posted in Leadership

0

Top Posts of 2014 #10: “What if Home Depot Functioned like a Church?”

For the next couple of days I’m going to be counting down the top 10 posts from 2014 here on Helping Churches Make Vision Real. These are the posts that generated the most traffic, comments, and were the most shared on social media. The most popular topics this year had to do with strategic planning, insider focused churches, leadership, church growth, teams, and even pastors wives. We start off with a post that I wrote just a week ago but has quickly gained traction and shot into the top 10 posts of the year (that was fast…if only all of my posts were that good).

For the last month we’ve been getting ready for Christmas at my house and that means multiple trips to Home Depot. The first trip to pick up the Christmas tree and then back again to get more lights because the ones from last year don’t work this year. Then yet another trip for a new Christmas tree stand because the stand from last year doesn’t work. Oh, and I need a new pack of staples for the staple gun to put up the Christmas lights. And so on. You get the idea.

After spending half of the holiday season in the local Home Depot, I started thinking about how different Home Depot is from the majority of churches I’ve visited over the years, and what it would look like if Home Depot functioned like most churches in America.

  • Instead of everyone in the store wearing an orange Home Depot apron, each department would have it’s own uniquely colored apron.
  • Instead of having a hardware department and an appliance department, they would have really cool names like Ignite, Epic, and J.A.M. that are completely confusing to new customers.
  • Of course each department would have it’s own logo instead of using the one that’s already on the outside of the store.
  • Instead of having clear way finding and signage that easily directs you to what you’re looking for you’d have to aimlessly wander around hoping to find the power tools or stop a complete stranger and ask for directions.
  • Instead of picking up one flyer at the entrance of the store that has all the sale adds in it, you’d have to pick up printed material at each unique department and of course they would all have their own logos on them and look like they came from different stores.
  • The store would only be open on Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, and Wednesday nights.
  • Customers would be able to vote on who the store manager was going to be and then appoint a board made up of the best customers who then get to tell the store manager what to do.
  • This special board made up of the best customers would also get to decide what products the store sold and what kinds of other customers were allowed to shop at the store.
  • If you were in the electric department and had a question about plumbing, the electric department employee would have no idea how to help you because electricity and plumbing have nothing to do with each other.

While we all know that the Church is not a business, I hope this post challenges some of your thinking about the Church. And I hope you got a good laugh at this tongue in cheek approach to the conversation.

What else would you add to the list?

Photo Credit: JeepersMedia via Compfight cc


Posted in Leadership

2

What if Home Depot Functioned like a Church?

For the last month we’ve been getting ready for Christmas at my house and that means multiple trips to Home Depot. The first trip to pick up the Christmas tree and then back again to get more lights because the ones from last year don’t work this year. Then yet another trip for a new Christmas tree stand because the stand from last year doesn’t work. Oh, and I need a new pack of staples for the staple gun to put up the Christmas lights. And so on. You get the idea.

After spending half of the holiday season in the local Home Depot, I started thinking about how different Home Depot is from the majority of churches I’ve visited over the years, and what it would look like if Home Depot functioned like most churches in America.

  • Instead of everyone in the store wearing an orange Home Depot apron, each department would have it’s own uniquely colored apron.
  • Instead of having a hardware department and an appliance department, they would have really cool names like Ignite, Epic, and J.A.M. that are completely confusing to new customers.
  • Of course each department would have it’s own logo instead of using the one that’s already on the outside of the store.
  • Instead of having clear way finding and signage that easily directs you to what you’re looking for you’d have to aimlessly wander around hoping to find the power tools or stop a complete stranger and ask for directions.
  • Instead of picking up one flyer at the entrance of the store that has all the sale adds in it, you’d have to pick up printed material at each unique department and of course they would all have their own logos on them and look like they came from different stores.
  • The store would only be open on Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, and Wednesday nights.
  • Customers would be able to vote on who the store manager was going to be and then appoint a board made up of the best customers who then get to tell the store manager what to do.
  • This special board made up of the best customers would also get to decide what products the store sold and what kinds of other customers were allowed to shop at the store.
  • If you were in the electric department and had a question about plumbing, the electric department employee would have no idea how to help you because electricity and plumbing have nothing to do with each other.

While we all know that the Church is not a business, I hope this post challenges some of your thinking about the Church. And I hope you got a good laugh at this tongue in cheek approach to the conversation.

What else would you add to the list?

Photo Credit: JeepersMedia via Compfight cc


Posted in Leadership