Tag Archive - government

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10 Articles that will Help your Church Make Vision Real

Thank you for making October 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!

Stop Hiring People to Work at your Church

Churches love to hire people. I mean they really love to hire people. Often times when churches are just starting off, staff members will raise their own salary until the church has the capacity to pay them. Then as they grow I’ve seen churches long for the day where the budget grows just a little bit more so they can make that next hire. They put so much hope into staffing. Many think that if they could just add one more special staff position to the team, the church would grow.

10 Things that Require Zero Talent

“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” That’s a statement I talk to my son about all the time. He’s only 9 years old, but I want him to grow up to have a great work ethic and a positive attitude. I don’t expect him to be the great at everything he attempts, but I do expect him to give a great effort. There’s a lot of things he can’t control in life, but he’ll always be able to control his effort and his attitude.

What makes a Great Executive Pastor Great?

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.

Can a Congregationally-Led Church be Healthy?

Why are the majority of small churches in America congregationally-led instead of being led by pastors and ministry staff?

The Difference between Preparation and Planning

Do great organizations prepare for the future or do they plan for it? The answer is, “yes.” To be clear preparation and planning are not the same thing, and great organizations become great by doing both.

How do you know when it’s Time to Leave your Church?

There are all kinds of reasons why church staff leave the church they work at to go work another church. Some of those reasons are solid and make a lot of sense. Some of them as you could guess, not so much. If you’re a church staff member and you’re trying to figure out if you should stay or if it’s time to go, here are a couple of principles you should keep in mind.

8 Reasons Why People don’t Volunteer at your Church

I’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.

Casting Vision for the Next Chapter: Sun Valley Community Church

Sun Valley is a church with more than 7,000 people gathering in five locations in the Phoenix area. Many times, I don’t get the opportunity to see the vision move from the planning charts to reality. Because of that, I was encouraged to see this update. Check out the video below.

Why Knowledge isn’t the Key to Team Leadership

If you have to know everything or be the one with the greatest expert knowledge on the team then eventually you will become the lid to growth. While you don’t have to know everything, if you’re the leader you still need to be able to provide your team with the following 4 keys that unlock team success.

New FREE Resource on Trends in Church Growth and Health

Each quarter, we plan to release a new edition of The Unstuck Church Report: Benchmarks & Trends in U.S. Churches. It’s a 4-page PDF overviewing 20 updated metrics in key areas of church health, including Ministry ReachStaffing and LeadershipConnection, and Finances. Tony Morgan shares his take on several of the more intriguing data points.

 


Posted in Leadership

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Can a Congregationally-Led Church be Healthy?

Why are the majority of small churches in America congregationally-led instead of being led by pastors and ministry staff?

Here’s a short history lesson:

The congregational style of church government finds its sustained growth in the birth of our nation. The driving force behind people risking everything to sail to the new land was to throw off the tyranny of government and religious persecution. Unfair policies and spiritual hierarchy, along with unbearable taxation, served as the motivators for families to uproot and risk everything.

Oppression lingered in the minds of these pilgrims, and their response was to establish congregations that mirrored the newly embraced form of democratic government. Once and for all, we would be free from persecution and tyrannical rule in our houses of worship.

Another major contributing factor to the congregational structure was the effects of the Protestant Reformation which was now firmly established in religious thinking. The doctrine of the priesthood of the believer declared that every believer has direct access to God without requiring a human mediator. It is easy to see the direct correlation between an individual’s personal connection with God and the rejection of spiritual leadership after so many centuries of spiritual aristocracy and hierarchy within Christianity.

If It’s Good Enough for the USA

The majority of the rural churches did not have a bishop or pastor to lead them. So circuit-riding preachers would travel from church to church on Sundays teaching from the Scriptures. The prevailing attitude became that the preacher tells us what the Bible says without actually meddling in our day to day lives.

Today, the average small church in America is still democratic, choosing deacons, trustees or elders through a popular vote, and voting on the installation of a new preacher whenever called for.

This attitude is so ingrained in church DNA that the thought of a pastor or staff-led church sounds like heresy. It prevails from one generation to the next.

If It’s Not Biblical, What Is It?

Ephesians 4:1-16 gives us uncompromised clarity about how Jesus intended for His church to be structured.

A church led by those God has called to lead will equip the saints to do the work of the ministry. The results will be a church that models maturity, stability, integrity and community.

This passage also states very clearly that His church will grow. At its core, a healthy church grows both deep and wide, in character and numerically.

So, can a congregationally-led church be healthy?

In most cases, the answer is no. And even if they experience health for a season, it’s not likely to be sustained.

A small church mentality is what keeps a church small. A proper understanding of how Jesus intended for His church to work should eventually motivate us to adopt His design for His church.

Leading a shift from congregational leadership to staff-led leadership is no small feat. But as our team at The Unstuck Group continues to serve stuck churches, this is one of the major reasons vision has stalled out and churches are starting to die.


Tony Morgan and Amy Anderson dive deeper into this topic in a recent episode of The Leadership Unstuck Podcast. Check it out here:

Episode 10 – Staff vs. Congregational Leadership

Does choosing a new shade of paint for the lobby require approvals from three different committees at your church? Maybe it’s time to start asking if your current structure is the best way to make decisions.

This episode addresses challenges that both staff-led and congregation-led churches face and provides clear roles for effective lay leadership boards.


About the Author: 

Dale Sellers has been in ministry for 35 years. He and his wife, Gina, have been married for 34 years. They have three daughters and two sons-in-law. Their first grandchild is due in July! He launched Dale Sellers Leadership, Inc. in March 2014 to assist organizations in the areas of leadership, inspiration, and evangelism. He has recently become an Associate Consultant for The Unstuck Group with a focus on helping the small church. You can contact him at .


Posted in Leadership

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2 Big Leadership Questions you Probably aren’t Asking

I want to thank my dad, David Alexander, for this guest post. Retired from a career with the Department of Defense in which he oversaw billions of dollars of government assets and hundreds of employees, today he enjoys fishing, his grandkids, and driving my mom crazy! Love you dad, hopefully some of your leadership experience rubbed off on me. And hopefully this post helps church leaders think a little differently about leadership.

Do you know who you work for?

Seems like a silly question, I know. Let me explain… I was once asked to work for the Under Secretary of The Navy for Research and Development for a few months in order to help with the work load. While there I worked for the Deputy Under Secretary, Rear Admiral Dave Oliver. My first assignment was to give a briefing about our lab facilities on the west coast to the new Under Secretary who was a new appointee under the Clinton Administration.

The Under Secretary had a very large office as far as Pentagon standards and had a great view of the Washington monument.  There were a number of Navy Captains, high level civilians as well as the Under Secretary in the room. Just before my brief, my boss, ADM Oliver told me to be sure to introduce my self and explain I was on loan from the Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command to ADM Oliver. He was standing in the back of the room and had a smile on his face. As I started my brief, and introduced myself and who I worked for, the Under Secretary stopped me in mid sentence saying, “Mr. Alexander, I want you to understand, you don’t work for ADM Oliver you work for me!” Sometimes people, especially political appointees, feel the need to flex their positional authority mussels. The ADM was now laughing and trying to hide it and pointed at me from the back of the room. Nothing wrong with positional authority, sometimes it’s a way to get things accomplished. ADM Oliver totally set me up and he thought it was very funny. But there’s a real lesson here. No matter how large or small an organization, in which you serve, you need to know who you really work for and who your boss really is. I can tell you, it’s probably not your direct report! Maybe it’s others….or just maybe ADM Oliver was just trying to make me, the new kid, feel like part of the team, could be he just needed a good laugh, not sure. But that was the high point of the brief. From that point on, I always made sure who the boss really was.

What are your priorities ?

You can get all sorts of answers to the question of priorities in the work space. As the Executive Director of the Nuclear Submarine Base New London, Groton CT. I had the privilege of working with various unions and union leadership representatives. Having some important info I wanted to discuss with the union leadership representatives and members I asked that they meet with me at close of the business day for an hour and that I would pay them overtime for the hour.

We had two shifts on base so I asked each shift to meet with me at 1600 (4pm for those who may not know how the military tells time). To make a long story short my HR division head informed me that paying union members over time to attend a meeting was against the rules and that I can’t have the meeting. I thanked John, my HR Director, for his input, but that I was having the meeting anyway. He decided to report me to HR headquarters in Washington DC!

Bold move to say the least since I signed his pay check. I had the meeting and a couple of months later I received a phone call from the senior officer on the base. It was the ADM in charge of water space management for submarines in the Atlantic Ocean. Although not in my chain of command, since he was the senior officer on the base he had lots of positional authority (goes to knowing who your boss is). The ADM called me first thing in the morning one Monday and asked if I would come see him. He was just being polite. Of course when the ADM asks you to come see him your not going to say no. Sitting across from his desk he said “David did you have a meeting with the union folks and pay them overtime to attend?” I told him I did. Then he asked, “Would you do it again if you needed to.”  I simply said, yes I would. He then crumpled up a letter on his desk and made a perfect swish to the trash can (I’m thinking two points!) and said, “I thought so.” That was the end of our brief meeting that morning. I could tell because he stood up and turned to ask his administrative assistance something, so I simply exited his office. That’s how things are done lots of times.

I assumed it was a letter from HR headquarters talking about my transgression with paying the union folks. I later found out it was.

Even though I had much to do each day, one thing was always more important than the issue at hand. That was making people a priority. Knowing your priorities is key to success and I believe in most organizations the priority is your people. Do what’s best for them, sometimes it may have to be in spite of the rules. But if you do decide to break the rules, you need to be sure it’s the right thing to do.


Posted in Leadership, Testimonial

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What Growing Churches do Differently

It’s not faith, it’s not luck, and it’s not some leadership secret. Growing churches are actually doing something differently than the other 80% of churches in America that are stuck or declining.

At the Unstuck Group we work with 100’s of churches every year and we’ve discovered that growing churches are actually doing some very tangible things differently than other churches. Below are just a few of them.

1. Staff Led

Look at the statistics across America and you’ll discover that growing churches have very few congregational votes. These churches are Staff led instead of Board led or Congregationally led. Practically speaking that is because Church Boards are part-time thinkers and they simply don’t have the time to give to a full-time job of running the church. As a result decision making and implementation slow down because the staff are constantly catching the Board or the church up on the past instead of leading the church into the future. I know this isn’t always an easy transition for churches to make. I’d suggest you pick up a copy of High Impact Church Boards to read through with the Board at your church and get the conversation started.

2. Intentionally Develop Leaders

Growing churches develop leaders at an exponential rate compared to most churches in America. They do this intentionally, not just “organically,” (which is code for we don’t have a plan and we hope it somehow magically happens). They don’t just use people to fill volunteer roles, they see volunteering as an essential part of the discipleship process. They delegate responsibility and empower volunteers with real ministry decision-making power. They develop some kind of formal content that is specific to the culture of their church and train up and coming leaders in that content. This allows them to hire from within instead of hiring from outside and jeopardizing their culture.

3. Embrace Technology

Growing churches embrace technology. This may simply be evidence that they are more likely to change methodology based on effectiveness more readily than other churches and that they are open to new ideas. But whatever the case they are embracing the use of technology through social media engagement, online marketing, big data, video teaching, and use of technology in weekend worship services. This isn’t new. I don’t think it’s a mere coincidence that the protestant reformation took place during a similar time period to the printing press and the Bible being translated, printed in the hands of the everyday guy. With advancements in technology come opportunities for advancements in the Gospel for churches that embrace them.

4. Clear Strategy

Growing churches don’t just hope and pray for growth, they plan for it and build a clear actionable strategy to grow. Hoping your church will grow won’t make your church grow and growing churches understand this. They develop clear strategies (strategy answers the question “How are we going to do this?”), to help them get to their vision (vision answers the question “Where are we going?”). This informs all of their decision-making and allows them to align resources (people, time, money, facilities, etc.) to get them where they believe Jesus has called them to go. They’re also fanatical about clarity, because they understand the clearer they can make things, the faster they can go and the more effective they can be.

Interested in getting your church unstuck and growing again? I’d encourage you to reach out to the Unstuck Group. We’ve built a trusted track record and have a proven process to help your church get unstuck!


Posted in Leadership

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Leadercast 2014: Laura Busch

The first speaker of the afternoon was First Lady Laura Bush. Theses are my notes and take-aways from her conversation.

“Nothing prepares you for leadership as much as experience”

  • The people you’re leading can teach you
  • Having a clear objective or opponent helps teams focus on the real opponent instead of making each other the opponent
  • Wise team members offer input when it is invited, they don’t feel the need to overly insert themselves
  • Normal life together in the mundane moments provides a depth and framework to lead from as a team is in the difficult moments
  • In stressful leadership times having a routine provides strength, calmness, and stability
  • Leadership is not about popularity…popularity is fleeting…the role of the leader is to lead in the correct direction regardless of popularity
  • Calm is contagious…everyone takes their cues from the leader
  • Leaders speak for those who cannot speak for themselves
  • Leaders have a bias to turn and face challenges, especially unexpected challenges
  • Treat people with respect, don’t be demeaning or sarcastic towards the people you work with
  • Leaders set the example: Children aren’t very good at listening to their elders but they’re very quick to imitate

Posted in Leadership