Tag Archive - idea

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The Rules of Innovation

One of the best ways to learn as a church leader is to get outside of the “church-world” and learn from other industries. That kind of exposure challenges your thinking in new ways. It exposes you to different problems that you aren’t facing as well as new solutions that churches aren’t even thinking about.

The other day I had the opportunity to learn from a friend of mine who works in a different industry than the church I serve in. He works for a fast growing, global, world class company that’s known for innovation.

As I listened to him describe his company’s approach to innovation there we some core concepts that were counter intuitive that really stood out to me.

First…Master the Standard

You don’t have the right to innovate until you’ve mastered the existing standard, because otherwise you degrade the standard. In order to innovate you have to begin with a baseline standard. That starting point allows you to begin to improve things, be creative and innovate. In a church you may have a standard way of doing things like checking in kids, new families, or following up on guests. You may have standard expectations in regard to the quality of the worship band, lighting, sound or even the percentage of attenders in a group or engaged in a volunteer team. Innovation in those instances would mean mastering the standard, whatever that is, and then trying new things to improve upon it.

Hyper Standardization AND a Free for All are both Bad for Innovation

Both over standardization and a wild west, no holds barred approach squelch innovation. Innovation for the sake of innovation is a waste of time. There’s plenty of opportunity to innovate against a problem. The best innovations are always for the sake of guests or customers and make things simpler not more complicated.

How it Really Works: 

1. Communicate BEFORE you Innovate
Before you start improving upon the standard always communicate up to your direct report. No boss likes to be surprised and you may find that your boss has different priorities for your time than what you want to innovate.

2. Define the Period of Time that you’ll Run the Test
Be clear about how long you’re going to test this new innovative idea as well as the potential scope of impact.

3. Evaluate Real Results
Conduct an autopsy on the test you ran. What were the net results? Look at both the data and the anecdotes. If it’s not significantly better than the standard, then ditch the idea…it’s not worth chasing.

4. Preserve what Worked and Pivot away from what didn’t
Simply put, have the courage to turn away from ideas that didn’t work, even if you liked the idea, even if it was a good idea. If it didn’t work, then don’t waste your time working it. Preserve what did work significantly better and either work to implement it everywhere or continue to improve upon it.


Posted in Leadership

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10 Articles that will Help Your Church Make Vision Real

Thank you for making May 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!

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.

How to get Guests to Come Back to your Church

Why is it that the one organization on the planet that should care the most about people, the church, seems to get a bad rap for the way it treats people?

How to Clear Up the Vision at your Church

In my experience working with churches “vision” seems to be one of the most talked about and least understood concepts in church leadership. Most church leaders have a tendency to over-complicate or over-spiritualize vision.

Insider Focuses 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 Good Leaders Shut Down New Ideas

There are countless examples of organizations and churches that fall in love with past success, become risk adverse over time, and refuse to change. But did you know that the most successful organizations and churches on the planet are just as adept at shooting down new ideas? Here’s why…

How to Leave your Church

No matter what style or size of church you serve in, no matter what title you have behind your name, there is one thing that every person in ministry has in common. At some point in the near or distant future, you will leave your current ministry position.

The 4-Phase Planning Process for Church Leaders

Few churches have a great planning process. Most don’t even have a good planning process, if they have a process at all. I’m not sure why this isn’t a bigger priority. Planning is certainly biblical. I don’t find many pastors who would really take aim at that fact. You’d have to throw out a lot of Proverbs, if you decided to.

Why some churches Win but most Lose

There are a lot of reasons why 80% of churches in America aren’t winning and there’s no “silver bullet” fix. But there are a couple of things that winning churches consistently do that losing churches don’t.

is your church Over-Thinking Discipleship?

At the Unstuck Group we’ve discovered an alarming trend in churches across America. When we lead a church through our strategic planning process we help them discover several “core issues” that that are holding them back from being the church that God has called them to be. In a study that we conducted more than any other issue churches identified creating a solid discipleship strategy as the most pressing issue they are facing.

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.

Photo Credit: justin fain via Compfight cc


Posted in Leadership

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Why Good Leaders Shoot Down New Ideas

Ever had an idea that your boss shot down? Sure you have, I have too.

Remember when you were a young leader full of fresh new ideas and you were pretty sure that your idea was the best idea in the room? Remember how frustrated you were with your boss when they shot down that great idea? You were so sure that they just didn’t get it and they were passing on the next big thing.

There are countless examples of organizations and churches that fall in love with past success, become risk adverse over time, and refuse to change. But did you know that the most successful organizations and churches on the planet are just as adept at shooting down new ideas? Here’s why…

1. You Innovate for Impact

Many young leaders get enamored with new ideas. They want to challenge the status quo and do new things for the sake of doing new things; often times without fully understanding why current things are being done the way they are. What many young leaders miss out on is the goal of innovation. The goal of innovation is impact.

2. Is the Innovation a Significant Upgrade?

It’s not enough for the innovation to simply be better. The idea must lead to a significant upgrade, not just a tweak or subtle improvement. If a church or organization is going to invest the leadership capital, human capital, emotional energy, time, money, and so on it needs to be worth it. The return must significantly outweigh the investment.

3. Standardization is Innovations Best Friend

It may sound counter-intuitive but without standardization you can’t have impact. One little innovation in isolation can’t have much impact. But when there are standardized systems and process in place to preserve the culture, one innovation has the potential to be delivered throughout the entire organization or church and carry with it significant impact.


Posted in Leadership

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4 Principles of Highly Effective Churches

This past week the Unstuck Group met in Atlanta for our annual planning and team gathering. Not only is it an incredible team to be a part of but also it’s incredibly rewarding to help churches all around the world get unstuck, which ultimately results in the Kingdom of God taking ground and more people saying yes to follow Jesus!

There is genuine excitement on the team, a sense of unity of purpose and calling to help churches get unstuck, and frankly there’s momentum. But even with the positive momentum and sense of winning there were a few key principles that came up repeatedly in our time together. And as a local church guy at heart I was reminded of these four key principles that all highly effective local churches employ.

1. The Team Outperforms the Individual

It was exciting and humbling to be in the room with the whole Unstuck Group at the same time. It really is a high powered, highly talented, experience rich group. When you hire the Unstuck Group you’re not just hiring a single consultant, you’re bringing the experience of the whole team to the table. As we dreamed about the future and built plans to get us there it was incredible to watch the team make ideas stronger than any individual would alone.

2. Plan Your Work & Work Your Plan

An old Japanese Proverb states that, “Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.” Most churches are either busy daydreaming or stuck in a nightmare. Fortunately the art of planning and turning vision into focused action is a core strength of the Unstuck Group. It was fun to apply tools that we typically use to help churches get unstuck to our own future and action required to get there.

3. Guard the Gate

You become who you hire. Successful churches are borderline fanatical about who they allow to join the team. They know that people build culture and with each hire they either move closer to, or further away from the culture they’re trying to build.

4. Lean into the Fountain of Youth

Every great ministry started as an idea, but not every idea ends up being a great ministry. The key question is are you generating new ideas? Do you have a drawer full of “fountain of youth ideas” to implement when the time is right. If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got. And you’ll age out as a church. Great churches innovate, are idea rich, and discover new solutions to old problems.

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Posted in Leadership

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How to get Different Solutions

Getting different solutions isn’t always about looking for new ideas but sometimes just looking at the same things differently. But looking at things differently and changing your perspective usually means getting outside of your tribe. After all if what you were doing were working you wouldn’t be stuck and you’d already be heading where you want to be going. One of our biggest problems is that we have a tendency to surround ourselves with people who are just like us. People who think like us, dress like us, talk like us; they even believe the same things we believe. That’s why we allow them to be close to us. But getting different solutions means going to new sources. Here are 6 ideas to get outside of your tribe and get different solutions:

1. Invite the Wrong People to the Meeting

Instead of inviting the same old people to the meeting who have the same old ideas, change up the invite list. Bring in people from a different generation, background, or layer of the organization. I guarantee you’ll walk away with different ideas.

2. Make a new Hire

Any time you make a new hire from the outside you’re bringing in a wealth of new and different experiences and ideas. Go to work in the first 3 months of mining those ideas. Let them have a look at everything you do and encourage them to question ‘Why do you do it that way?’

3. Chase until you get Caught

Make a list of people that you respect who have different abilities and gifts than you, who have been successful in their field, and then chase them this year (don’t stalk them). You’d be surprised how many successful people are generous with their time when it comes to investing in others. Remember leaders don’t go looking for people to invest in, leaders press into people who press into them. This may mean investing some time and money, but the ideas and personal growth that you experience will be well worth it!

4. Take a trip to Disney World

Go and visit leaders from different industries and learn what principles can be transferred back into the area you’re leading in. A Chic-fil-A Executive once told me that they don’t look at other fast food companies to learn from, they go outside their tribe to other global industry leaders to learn from.

5. Engage a Good Consultant

Bringing in an outside experienced professional with fresh eyes and different questions is a great way to help you begin to think differently. I know some great consultants at TonyMorganLive (the consulting group I’m involved with) that love the local church and want to see you win, that I’d highly recommend.

6. Move your Workspace

This is a simple step you can take this week. Take a day and move your workspace to a coffee shop, a cabin, a park or any place other than where you work every day. You’d be surprised how a change of scenery can make you think and act differently.


Posted in Leadership