Tag Archive - clear

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How Church People can Wreck a Church Plant

New churches reach new people, right? That’s the prevailing thought. Unfortunately, the prevailing thought doesn’t always prevail. I’ve talked to plenty of church planters who were excited to plant and reach new people in a new community only to open their doors and find their new church flooded with disgruntled church people who left their old church hoping that this new church would be more of what they want and meet their needs better.

There’s a lot wrong with that picture, and it would take a much higher word count than I have to use in this short blog post to fully unpack. Perhaps the biggest hurdle to overcome in that scenario (which is super common by the way) is that all of those people coming from other churches are coming with their own agenda and expectations of what they want from you.

So, what do you do when your new church plant is flooded with disgruntled church people from other churches that hope you’re going to be the perfect new church for them (by the way some people make a career out of that…it’s called church hopping)?

Be Clear about the Vision

Vision both attracts and repels at the same time. The clearer you can be with unique vision that God has given you, the more likely it is that the right people will stay, and the right people will go. Don’t be naïve, there are, “the right people,” for both of those options. They key is consistently and creatively weaving your vision into everything you do so people are confronted with it early and often. The earlier they opt in or opt out the better off you will be and the better off they will be. If your vision is to build a church of disgruntled church folks and try to make them happy, then by all means embrace them (and let me be the first one to say good luck). But if the vision is to reach people who are unfamiliar with Jesus with the Gospel, then let them go, and let them go quickly.

Be Courageous

Courage is the prerequisite for Biblical leadership. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to say yes to following Jesus and lead other people to go there with you. Humility is the other side of that coin by the way, in fact humility is courage before it’s needed. As a planter you’re going to need a significant amount of courage to lead yourself and others somewhere you’ve never been. It takes courage to say no to people when everyone thinks they know what the next best step for the church is or the next great ministry you should start. Especially when fear wells up in you that people may leave if you don’t appease them. It will require courage to say no to good opportunities in order to say yes to the best opportunities and it will require courage to say no to short cuts that may get you somewhere quickly but erode your leadership in the long run.

Be Slow to Appoint Leadership

Go slow, go slow, go slow, go slow. Don’t appoint a leader too quickly, especially in the early moments and years of a plant. It takes time to build culture and create owners instead of fans. The earlier you invite new people to be on a Board or prominent leadership role the more likely those people are going to come with their own agendas and have the potential to highjack the vision. You’d be wiser to invite outside trusted pastors to serve on an external board until you have time to establish the culture and develop internal board members. You’d also be wise to spend time developing a core team of people prior to launch who will serve as ministry volunteers and leaders.


Posted in Leadership

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The Dark Side of Vision

Many tout the most important aspect of a leader is the ability to paint a clear vision of the future. If you’ve been around church-world for any length of time you’ve probably even heard a sermon or two about it, after all “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Prov. 29:18) right?  What many leaders often fail to realize is that there is another side to vision, a downside, that if not understood and artfully led through can derail the vision before it begins.

The Clearer the Vision the Louder the Critics

Many leaders often naively think that everyone is going to automatically love the vision as much as they do. They strongly and clearly cast the vision, and much to their surprise, they are often met with resistance and criticism. The truth is the clearer you articulate the vision the more criticism you will receive. There are always naysayers both inside and outside the organization. Jesus was criticized to the point it ended up costing His life. If you’re the leader and you’re not prepared for criticism, then be careful how clearly you articulate the vision.

The Clearer the Vision the More People Will Leave You

Vision is not only a rallying cry but also a jumping off point. The clearer the vision is articulated not only will people join you, but people will leave you as well. This happened to Jesus Himself when in John chapter 6 He literally goes from 1,000’s of people following him to by the end of the chapter it’s just the twelve. If you’re the leader and you’re not okay with people leaving you, be careful how clearly you articulate the vision.

I’ll be the first guy in line to say that clear vision is needed in any effective organization or church. But clear vision by itself simply isn’t enough.


Posted in Leadership

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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.”

In helping churches get unstuck and make vision real I’ve run across a number of insider focused ministry names. In fact here’s a link to a post with a free tool that you can use as you begin to evaluate your own ministry names and language you’re using in your church. Remember it’s always more important to be clear than clever. Here’s a quick list of 10 insider focused ministry names to give you an idea of what I’m talking about.

Nation2Nine: A Young Adult Ministry in a church targeting people age 20-29. While it may be clear to people inside the church what this is, it doesn’t say anything to people outside of the church.

Romeo: “Real Old Men Eating Out,” a once a week gathering of old men who eat out together and talk about God’s Word together. Acronyms are the quintessential example of insider language. If your name or brand needs an explanation it’s not clear enough.

Men on Fire: A Men’s Ministry at a church. The only problem is people outside of the church don’t think the same way or have the same filter as people inside the church. While “church people” notoriously talk about being “on fire” for Jesus, that brand may elude to something different in the minds of people outside of the church.

Chicks with Sticks: A Quilting Ministry in a church. Yes this is real. This one came from one of the participants from a recent Leadership Coaching Network that I led. It was too good not to include in this list. Let’s just say people outside of the church aren’t thinking the same things as people inside of the church when they see this ministry name.

Girlfriends Unlimited: A Women’s Ministry in a church. Again while this may be clear to people inside the church any single 20-something young man is going to sign up for this one in a heartbeat. What young man who doesn’t know Jesus doesn’t want to sign up for unlimited girlfriends?

XYZ: “Extra Years of Zest,” a ministry to Senior Adults. This is another example of an acronym that doesn’t mean anything to anyone who isn’t an insider.

Body Builders: A Bible Study at a church. It may seem cute but when an outsider sees that name they’re probably going to be asking you where the gym is.

MOPS: “Mothers of Preschoolers,” a ministry to mothers of preschoolers…or is it a cleaning ministry? Again…acronyms are dangerous.

Equally Yoked: A Marriage Ministry at a church…or an egg ministry. Outsiders have no idea what the scriptures say so be careful about using Biblical names like this.

JAM: “Jesus and Me,” the name of a Student Ministry at a church…cute…just not clear.

I’d love to hear other examples that you’ve run across in your ministry experience, so leave a comment.


Posted in Leadership

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Taking Steps to Make Vision Real

Typically churches aren’t stuck when it comes to the mission. Fortunately we don’t have to search very far in the Scriptures to discover God’s intent for the church to reach the nations. However where churches are notorious for being stuck is what comes next. Understanding and developing the steps that are necessary to take in order to make that vision reality. This is where strong leadership is needed. The task of leadership is to break a complicated process of moving from where you are to where God wants you to be into clear, simple, easy, natural steps that make vision real.

Clear:

If what you’re asking people to do is confusing, chances are they’ll move in a different direction than you intend for them to, or worse they won’t move at all. Your idea and message may seem obvious and clear to you, but it doesn’t matter how clear it is in your mind. You’ve got to figure out a way to make it clear to the people you want to take the step.

Simple:

If you want people to take a step that will move them and the organization in a preferred direction then it can’t be complicated. If you’ve ever put together IKEA furniture then you understand what I mean. It’s amazing how they can fit a 6×6 entertainment center in a box the size of a Rubix Cube, and for some reason there always seems to be parts left over! The best and quickest process is always a one step process.

Easy:

Let me be clear. By no means am I saying that helping people take steps towards making vision real is easy in the sense that it is painless, peaceful, or comfortable. Moving people towards a preferred future vision of reality (change) by its very nature is difficult and painful. Rather I’m asserting that easy solutions to complex problems lead to movement.

Natural:

If you are intentional in forming the culture of the organization then you will be creating an environment that tells people where they should naturally move towards and how they should behave. People should begin to see it as the natural obvious step they should move towards.


Posted in Leadership