Tag Archive - loss

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Why I’m the Lid to Growth at my Church

One of the things I’ve learned over the years is that it’s usually the Sr. Leadership Team of a church that is the ultimate lid to growth. Many of them don’t see it and most of them wouldn’t agree with what I’m saying, but it’s true. Whether or not the Sr. Leadership Team of a church is willing to let go of authority, ministry decision making, and truly empower and lead through others can make or break a church.

Early in our multisite journey at Sun Valley we hadn’t developed the Campus Pastor role or team yet. So, like in most growing organizations, that meant double duty. I was serving as the Campus Pastor at our original location and serving as the Executive Pastor at the same time. I love leading teams and coaching church staff members, so it was really a fun season. But before long it became apparent that if I didn’t let go of leading the Lead Team on our original campus I would become the lid to growth at Sun Valley. I wouldn’t have the bandwidth to provide the church what it needed. So as much as I loved leading with that team, I had to let go of that team and build a Team of Campus Pastors to lead the campuses through.

Over time as we added more campuses and we expanded our Executive Team another point of tension came along. Again, I had to let go of leading a team that I loved leading with. I had to let someone else lead the Campus Pastors so I could provide leadership to the Executive Team and Central Service Team at the church. I had to give up something I loved, leading with a great team of Campus Pastors, for something else that I loved even more, seeing the whole church continue to take ground and move forward.

I failed to mention that along the way I also had to let go of teaching. For years I was on the Teaching Team at Sun Valley and taught about 20% of the time at our weekend worship services. I’m more of a leader that can communicate than I am a communicator that can lead if that makes any sense and we have some absolutely fantastic communicators on the team. For the church to grow what was needed from me was more strategic leadership and less teaching. And so once again I found myself letting go of something that I love for something else that I love even more.

This same scenario has played its way out in different ways over and over again the past 20 years of ministry. The secret of leadership that no one ever tells you is that the higher you go in leadership the more you lose. There’s no going up without giving up. But if you’re made for it, it’s worth it.

Every time I’ve given up my personal preference for what’s best for the church instead of what’s best for me the church has grown. And every time I’ve been reluctant to do the same, the church has been held back. When I do what I do best, the one thing where I bring the greatest value to the church, the church takes ground and I find fulfillment. When I do what’s best for the church not only does the church win, but I win too. When I don’t, I’m embarrassed to say it, but I hold the church back from everything Jesus has dreamed up for it to be.

And I imagine the same is true of you.


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Staffing, Testimonial

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Top Posts of 2014 #9: “10 Things You Lose when your Church Grows”

We’re continuing to count down the top 10 posts of 2014! This post struck a nerve. When people talk about “church growth” the typical conversation is all about more people, more buildings, and more impact. However what no one is telling you is that when our churches grow, there are things we lose along the way. And that’s not a bad thing.

It’s impossible for your church to grow and everything to stay the same. I know it would be nice if everything could stay the same as the church grows, but it can’t. And the secret underlying truth is as your church grows you will lose some things along the way. But that’s kind of the point. You simply can’t move from here (current reality) to there (preferred future) and everything stay the way it is. If it did, you’d never get “there,” you’d just stay where you are. Understanding that, here are 10 things you lose when your church grows:

#1 People

This isn’t the goal of growth and no one “wants” to lose people, but it’s inevitable with growth. You are going to lose people. You’ll hear the age old complaint, “The church is changing and it’s not what it used to be.” But that’s kind of the point isn’t it? If every church stayed the way it was, no one new would enter the kingdom. And if every person stayed the way they were they’d never be conformed into the image of Christ. Change is required to walk with Jesus.

#2 Staff & Volunteers

The most difficult thing to lose as the church grows is not just people but key people. Particularly Staff and Volunteers. However the reality is the people that got you to where you are aren’t necessarily going to take you where you’re going. They had a particular personality, gifting, and skill-set to be the right person at the right time. But that also inevitably means that eventually everyone is the wrong person at some point as well.

#3 Your Parking Spot & Favorite Seat

Chances are if your church is going to grow it means there are going to be new people showing up, and unless you have your name on your parking stall and a sign on your seat eventually you’re going to head to church and have to find another place to park and another place to sit. If your church is going to grow it means you’re going to have to get used to change, and you’re going to have to give something up. Probably a lot of something.

#4 Relational Connections

When the church is smaller you can lean into and lead through key relational connections. In fact you can know everyone in the church when the church is smaller. Not so in a larger church. It doesn’t mean everyone can’t be known it just means you can’t know everyone.

#5 Segment Targeted Ministries

In a smaller church, moments like child dedications and high school graduations can be celebrated in the main worship service. As the church grows these celebrations will come to be limited to Segment Targeted Ministries such as Children’s or Student Ministries.

#6 Insider Focused Ministries

As your church grows you will begin to lose insider-focused ministries. You know, those ministries that keep the core long-term attenders happy but have no impact on people outside the faith. Time, finances, facility and people resources (which all have finite limitations) will naturally transition towards reaching outsiders. Sorry ladies, that quilting club might not make it.

#7 Ambiguity

Clarity is king when growth takes place. If your church is going to grow it means you are going to leave ambiguity behind. You are going to have to get crystal clear on vision, roles, action, cultural behaviors and what the next hill is. In fact that speed at which you are able to move forward hinges on your ability to shed ambiguity.

#8 Winging It

If your church is going to grow, those days of just winging it are going to come to a close. The days of just walking in and using a room, or taking some tables and chairs for a family reunion are over. It will take a coordinated effort to integrate the ministry calendar, budget resources, and people. You’ll need to learn to plan your work and work your plan, because you get what you plan for.

#9 Ministry Preferences

As the church grows you lose your ministry preferences as the leader, unless you’re a micro-manager, but if that’s the case then there is already a lid on the growth of your church. As the leader you’re not going design ministry the way you once did. Your attention will need to be elsewhere. And not everything is going to do things the way you would. Don’t freak out. If they’re doing it at 80% of how you would do it, let it go. If it’s under that threshold then coach them.

#10 The Power to make Decisions

Guess what. As the church grows something counter-intuitive happens. Instead of gaining decision making, as the leader you actually lose out on making decisions. You’ll make less day-to-day decisions but the decisions you’ll make will be heavier and affect everyone.

Photo Credit: road_less_trvled via Compfight cc


Posted in Leadership

1

Why there is no Leadership without Loss

The leadership secret that no one is telling you about? There is no leadership without loss. It may not be popular, but it is absolutely take it to the bank true. Most people mistakenly believe that gaining leadership is all about gaining more power, gaining a more influential position, and gaining more prestige and popularity. But leaders who lead at the highest levels know there is no going up, without giving up. And the higher you go in leadership, the more you have to be willing to lose. In fact here are 3 big things that leaders lose the higher they go in leadership.

#1 Preference

The best leaders I’ve been around ask what’s best for the organization, not what’s best for themselves. And then they defer their preference for the performance of the organization.

#2 Rights

The best leaders willingly give up their rights in exchange for responsibility.

#3 Control

Great leaders are able to recruit and keep other incredible leaders at the table because they’re willing to give up control. They’re willing to share leadership and allow others to lead in their area of brilliance.

Jesus put it this way: If you want to gain your life, you have to lose itif you want to be first, you have to be last.

What else would you add to the list? Leave a comment!

Want to learn more about the connection between loss and leadership? Check out 10 Things you Lose when your Church Grows

Photo Credit: Jan Tik via Compfight cc


Posted in Leadership

3

10 Things You Lose when Your Church Grows

It’s impossible for your church to grow and everything to stay the same. I know it would be nice if everything could stay the same as the church grows, but it can’t. And the secret underlying truth is as your church grows you will lose some things along the way. But that’s kind of the point. You simply can’t move from here (current reality) to there (preferred future) and everything stay the way it is. If it did, you’d never get “there,” you’d just stay where you are. Understanding that, here are 10 things you lose when your church grows:

#1 People

This isn’t the goal of growth and no one “wants” to lose people, but it’s inevitable with growth. You are going to lose people. You’ll hear the age old complaint, “The church is changing and it’s not what it used to be.” But that’s kind of the point isn’t it? If every church stayed the way it was, no one new would enter the kingdom. And if every person stayed the way they were they’d never be conformed into the image of Christ. Change is required to walk with Jesus.

#2 Staff & Volunteers

The most difficult thing to lose as the church grows is not just people but key people. Particularly Staff and Volunteers. However the reality is the people that got you to where you are aren’t necessarily going to take you where you’re going. They had a particular personality, gifting, and skill-set to be the right person at the right time. But that also inevitably means that eventually everyone is the wrong person at some point as well.

#3 Your Parking Spot & Favorite Seat

Chances are if your church is going to grow it means there are going to be new people showing up, and unless you have your name on your parking stall and a sign on your seat eventually you’re going to head to church and have to find another place to park and another place to sit. If your church is going to grow it means you’re going to have to get used to change, and you’re going to have to give something up. Probably a lot of something.

#4 Relational Connections

When the church is smaller you can lean into and lead through key relational connections. In fact you can know everyone in the church when the church is smaller. Not so in a larger church. It doesn’t mean everyone can’t be known it just means you can’t know everyone.

#5 Segment Targeted Ministries

In a smaller church, moments like child dedications and high school graduations can be celebrated in the main worship service. As the church grows these celebrations will come to be limited to Segment Targeted Ministries such as Children’s or Student Ministries.

#6 Insider Focused Ministries

As your church grows you will begin to lose insider-focused ministries. You know, those ministries that keep the core long-term attenders happy but have no impact on people outside the faith. Time, finances, facility and people resources (which all have finite limitations) will naturally transition towards reaching outsiders. Sorry ladies, that quilting club might not make it.

#7 Ambiguity

Clarity is king when growth takes place. If your church is going to grow it means you are going to leave ambiguity behind. You are going to have to get crystal clear on vision, roles, action, cultural behaviors and what the next hill is. In fact that speed at which you are able to move forward hinges on your ability to shed ambiguity.

#8 Winging It

If your church is going to grow, those days of just winging it are going to come to a close. The days of just walking in and using a room, or taking some tables and chairs for a family reunion are over. It will take a coordinated effort to integrate the ministry calendar, budget resources, and people. You’ll need to learn to plan your work and work your plan, because you get what you plan for.

#9 Ministry Preferences

As the church grows you lose your ministry preferences as the leader, unless you’re a micro-manager, but if that’s the case then there is already a lid on the growth of your church. As the leader you’re not going design ministry the way you once did. Your attention will need to be elsewhere. And not everything is going to do things the way you would. Don’t freak out. If they’re doing it at 80% of how you would do it, let it go. If it’s under that threshold then coach them.

#10 The Power to make Decisions

Guess what. As the church grows something counter-intuitive happens. Instead of gaining decision making, as the leader you actually lose out on making decisions. You’ll make less day-to-day decisions but the decisions you’ll make will be heavier and affect everyone.

Photo Credit: smkybear via Compfight cc


Posted in Leadership

2

4 Leadership Lessons I was Reminded of by the Birth of my 4th Child

A week ago we welcomed Wyatt Grant into the Alexander family! And I’m not biased or anything, but he’s absolutely incredible! While we’ve gone through this a time or three before I’m still surprised by the depth of amazement, excitement, awe, fear, and loss of control that all collide in my heart at the birth of each of my children. And while we’re playing zone defense and filling up the minivan there are four distinct leadership lessons that this experience has reminded me of…

1. Great Leaders grow accustomed to Loss

At the birth of each of my children I’ve been abruptly reminded about how selfish I really am. When a little one crashes the party you quickly realize how much you still have to grow as you’re confronted with completely rearranging your life and putting the needs of that child above your own. Similarly the best leaders I know love the mission of the church more than themselves. So much so that they’re willing to let go of the past or even the present in order to move towards a preferred future. And letting go always means you’re losing something, that’s why you have to let go of it. There is always loss involved in growth and forward movement, and it usually involves a loss of comfort.

2. The Secret to Success is found in doing the little things daily

It’s amazing how quickly my other kids got so big, literally overnight. I went to the hospital with 3 small children one day and came home with a baby and the other three all of the sudden became giants overnight! While I’ve had some great moments as a parent, my parenting is more characterized by the daily grind of trying to point my children in the right direction. The same is true in leadership. It’s more about having the discipline and courage to do the right thing daily than waiting around for a big moment to shine. Do the little things daily and it will surprise you how it eventually compounds and shows up.

3. Control is an Illusion

Simply put, the delivery room scares me to death. Mostly because I’m completely out of control and I’m trusting the woman I love most and my nearly born child into the hands of people that I’m hoping and praying do a good job. The truth is control is a dangerous illusion that church leaders and pastors slowly creep towards through believing their press clippings and overconfidence. We would do well to remember that at the end of the day this is God’s church not ours. We are simply under-shepherd and stewards. He is building His Church and we are simply honored to be joining Him in the process.

4. Even great Leaders can’t accomplish the Vision Alone

Over the past week I’ve been floored by the generosity of the people around me. Meals have been provided, my other three children were farmed out while we were at the hospital, the dog was taken care of, and there was even a late night run by a friend to bring the boppy up to the hospital (if you don’t know what a boppy is then ask your wife). Leaders, even great leaders, if they’re chasing after a God-sized vision can’t do it alone. It takes a team of multifaceted and talented people. After all if you can do it by yourself…it’s probably not big enough.


Posted in Family, Leadership