Tag Archive - execution


10 Keys to Managing Change in a Church

Leading through change can be difficult. Leading a church through change can be near impossible. Churches in particular have a tendency to resist change because they get trapped by the comfort of past success, practices and traditions. It takes an incredible amount of wisdom, the art of timing, and plain old courage and grit.

Many churches I talk with want different results; they actually want to see more people meet Jesus and follow Jesus this year than last year. Unfortunately, they just aren’t willing to change, let go of old tactics and take a different approach.

Recently I had a conversation with a church staff team that is courageously leading their church through change. Here are a couple of things that came out of the conversation.

1. No Change is Perfectly Executed

No matter how well-planned change is, how good it looks on paper, or how much sense it makes in your head it’s not going to go the way you think it’s going to go. There is going to be a surprise. Something is going to take more or less time, cost more or less money, or be more or less difficult than you planned. Point is, work hard, plan your work, work your plan and then be flexible.

2. Communication is Key

During change management, communicating the right message to the right audience at the right time is essential and can take a lot of time. There are multiple audiences to communicate with including the church staff, the church board, lay leadership, volunteers, and the congregation to name a few. Some churches due to their polity and structures have even more groups to get on board.

3. Everyone Carries 2 Buckets Around with Them

Everyone carries around 2 buckets with them, a bucket of water and a bucket of gasoline. One fuels change the other puts it out. Water fuels change because it douses the fire of resistance. Gasoline puts change out because it fuels the fire of resistance. Anytime your staff listens to complaining and says, “I understand how you would feel that way” without redirecting them it pours gasoline on the situation and validates the complaint.

4. What about Me?

Most people are fine with change as long as it doesn’t affect them. One thing you can do to get on the solution side of positively leading through change is simply think those thoughts ahead of time. What are people going to embrace or reject about the change you’re trying to implement based on how it’s going to affect them (real or perceived), then address those pressure points.

5. It isn’t Easy

You know all those church conferences, books and blogs you read full of stories about how some pastor just turned things around at their church, “Jesus just paved the way.” Yea, it’s never really that easy. Change is hard, it takes time, and requires grit and courage. It is not for the faint of heart. Anyone who tells you any different hasn’t actually had to lead through change before.

6. The Ripple Effect

Change has a ripple effect that you often don’t seen until much later. It’s almost like painting one wall of a house you move into. It leads to another wall and another. And of course, then you need to change the flooring, the faucets, the cabinets, etc. Then it’s time to start on the outside of the house…ugh. Bottom line…change has a ripple effect.

7. The Minority can have a Majority Voice

In a season of change a small group of people can have a loud voice and make it seem like everyone is against you. The silent majority is typically with you and those who are positive about it rarely say they’re positive about it. It’s the negative few that always bark the loudest.

8. Lead Different with Different People

Remember what you read above? That communication is key in a season of change? Well it’s also key to remember that you don’t communicate to and lead every group of the same way. Anyone who has more than 1 kid knows you don’t parent every kid the same way…so why would you try to lead every group the same way?

9. Small Change can Reveal Big Issues

One small seemingly harmless change can tell you something about your church. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen church leaders try to change something that seemed small and innocent to them not to realize that they were stepping on a landmine that blew up. Make sure you truly understand not just what you’re changing things to become or how you’re going to change them but what it is your actually changing and why.

10. Training vs Challenging

Sometimes people don’t have the right information and they don’t understand why they should get on board with the change. Other times people don’t want to jump on board with the change because they have their own agenda.  Either way it can appear that people are digging their heals in and fighting you on the change you’re trying to make. What you’ve got to do as the leader is find out if they’re fighting due to ignorance or obstinace. You train ignorance and you challenge obstinance.

Interested in learning more about leading through change at your church? Check out these helpful articles.

Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Staffing, Testimonial


8 Keys to Changing your Church in 2017

Most church leaders I’ve talked with want things to change for the better, they want this year to be better than last year, but they don’t want to do anything different. People always want to change their circumstances, but they never want to change their lives. But everything gets better when we get better. Families get better when fathers and mothers get better. Students get better when educators get better. Organizations get better when leaders get better. And churches get better when church leaders get better. But change is painful. Don’t let anyone tell you any different. It’s always easier and more comfortable to stay where you are than to change and move forward. But if you want to grow at some point you’ve got to stop doing what’s easy and start doing what’s right. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind as you lead your church through change in 2017.

1. Get the Brutal Facts

The first place to start with change is where you are. You have to define reality and clearly understand what reality is today and why you’re here. Not what you think reality is or why you think you’re here. This takes courage to ask difficult questions and then listen more than talk and it usually comes with a pretty healthy dose of humility. If you don’t start here you’re likely to solve the wrong problems, take the wrong steps, or repeat the past.

2. Take Personal Responsibility

Often times churches don’t change because they mistakenly think that change is something that happens to them instead of something that happens in them. The change that you want to see happen in your life and in your church is no one’s responsibility but your own. You get to choose if you are going to grow and change or not. If you’ve been at your church for more than 3 years then stop blaming the prior administration and start leading.

3. Provide Clarity

If you don’t like where things are at in your church is right now, the good news is it doesn’t have to stay that way. You can change it. But change doesn’t come without clarity and it’s the leaders responsibility to provide clarity on what needs to change and what the preferred future looks like. The greater clarity the church has the faster you can make decisions and the more effectively you can move towards your future.

4. Don’t Overreach

Too much change can be the enemy of change. In fact if you reach further than you have the ability to execute you can actually cripple the church for years to come. You didn’t get where you are in a moment but a series of moments. You’re not going to get to you’re preferred future in a moment either. Instead, plan your work and work your plan.

5. Find a Coach

Leaders aren’t going around looking for someone to mentor or coach; they’re too busy leading. If you want a mentor or coach then you’ve got to chase after someone who has something you want until you catch them. Leaders press into people who press into them. You need to grow as a leader for your church to grow. Maybe it’s time to enlist a coach.

6. Rework your Team

Show me the top 5 decision makers at your church and I’ll show you what your church is going to look like in 5 years. Sometimes reworking your team is the right next step to take. Don’t be afraid to make personnel changes this year. But be careful and do this wisely. We’re not building widgets, we’re making disciples. The staff at your church aren’t cogs in a machine that can easily be replaced, they’re people to be developed and deployed.

7. Stop Hoping for things to Change

A majority of churches make the mistake of sitting around hoping for their “ship to come in,” some pivotal magic moment that’s going to change everything. What’s missed in all of this waiting and hoping is that the secret of growing and changing is doing a little every day. Long-term change is determined by your daily agenda. Hope is not a strategy. Take some advice from legendary basketball coach John Wooden that said, “You make the choice and then the choice makes you.”

8. Get some Fresh Eyes

Sometimes you simply need fresh eyes, someone from the outside to help you see things differently. Sometimes you need an outside voice to say some things that you want to say but can’t. And sometimes you’re just stuck and need help. If that’s your church then maybe the best step you can take to change things at your church is to engage the Unstuck Group. We help churches grow their impact through church consulting and coaching experiences designed to focus vision, strategy and action.

Posted in Leadership


10 Articles that will Help Your Church Make Vision Real

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


Leadership Summit 2016: 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.

The 4 Disciplines of Execution

  • What do leaders struggle with more: strategy or execution?
  • What are leaders educated in more: strategy or execution?
  • The most difficult thing a leader will ever do is to drive a strategy that requires a change in human behavior.
  • We tend to blame the people on our team instead of look at ourselves.
  • Any time the majority of the people behave a particular way the majority of the time the problem is not the people it’s the system, culture, and leader.
  • We don’t get to blame the people.

#1 Focus: on the wildly important

  • With too many goals people might love you but they can’t hear you
  • “There will always be more good ideas than there is capacity to execute”
  • What makes a wildly important goal is the treatment in which you give it.
  • What are the fewest battles necessary to win the war? When you’re tackling something big, don’t go big go narrow.
  • Maintain normal operations and blow the door off of one thing. 1 Goal per team at the same time.
  • People have to have their say but they don’t have to have their way.
  • Deadlines move from concepts to targets.
  • Execution doesn’t like complexity.
  • Simplicity and transparency are the two best friends of execution.

#2 Leverage: Act on the lead Measure

  • Lag measures what happened
  • Lead measures predict the future and are influencable by the team
  • There is a rare difference between knowing a thing and knowing the data behind a thing.
  • Bad news: data is hard to get
  • Good news: people will be engaged
  • Bad news: they’re going to forget about it in 3 days

#3 Engagement: Keep a Compelling Scoreboard

  • People play differently when they are keeping score
  • We’re looking for a players scoreboard not a coaches scoreboard
  • The number 1 driver of morale and engagement is whether people feel like they are winning or not
  • Do the people who work for me feel like they are playing a winnable game?

#4 Accountability: Create a Cadence of Accountability

  • Execution is so frustrating because in the moment the urgent always trumps what’s important
  • Report on last week’s commitment
  • Review and update scoreboard
  • Make a a commitment for next week
  • Secret: let people come up with their own commitments for the next week
  • Great execution is about creating a pull, not pushing action.
  • Create a winnable game and let the players go win the game
  • Do the people who work for me feel like they are playing a winnable high stakes game?

Posted in Leadership


The Art of Execution

August kicks off a new ministry year at Sun Valley, the church I have the privilege of serving at, and that means it’s time to get the team in the room and talk about the new year. Through out the ministry year we get the entire staff team from all campuses together once a month to worship together, celebrate wins, communicate stuff that everyone needs to know and provide leadership training. This month Chad Moore, who serves as the Lead Pastor at Sun Valley, shared about bridging the gap between vision and reality. The art of execution. Here are some of the best highlights.

  • Leadership is one of the most talked about and least understood spiritual gifts in the Bible.
  • David submitted to the vision God had for his life not the vision he had for his life (the calling on David’s life wasn’t to build the temple, but to defeat the enemies of God).
  • Solomon didn’t dream up the idea he executed the idea and the idea wasn’t general or generic it was VERY VERY VERY specific.
  • Vision isn’t mystical it’s specific, it’s a dream with a deadline “build the temple.”
  • Define reality, Dream a preferred future, and Design a pathway to get there.
  • Any time you are serving God it is going to involve serving people.
  • Inspiration and motivation don’t actually make anything happen, discipline does.
  • People who actually do the least get celebrated the most (public figures).
  • You make touchdowns yard by yard, down by down as you move down the field.
  • Discipline is the missing art of leadership.
  • The only way to hike the Grand Canyon is to go do the bleachers again, and again, and again.
  • You don’t follow Jesus in the spotlight but in the everyday mundane stuff that nobody sees.
  • The more specific the plan the better the plan.
  • The “science side” of the plan = what is written down, budget, etc.
  • You have to “embrace the stupid” if you’re going to learn and grow…i.e. “I don’t want to look stupid to do something new I’ve never done or learned before.”
  • Effort = “Work as hard as we can”
  • Excellence = “Work as well as we can”

Posted in Leadership
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