Tag Archive - ministry


Replenish: Leading from a Healthy Soul

Lance Witt served 20 years as a senior pastor and five years as the executive pastor at Saddleback Church with Rick Warren. A couple of years ago Lance released his book Replenish: Leading from a Healthy Soul. It’s a great book for church leaders. It’s so good, in fact, that we have our Leadership Coaching Networks at the Unstuck Group read it for the conversation we have about personal health. If you’re in ministry, I strongly encourage you to order this book today, you won’t regret it. Here are a couple of key ideas that stood out to me.

“We have neglected the fact that a pastor’s greatest leadership tool is a healthy soul.”

#1 Outward Success

Outward success in a church is easy to measure. The number of first time guests, people who say yes to Jesus, baptisms, people in small group bible studies, people volunteering, giving, weekend attendance and so on can (and should be) be measured. When those numbers are up and to the right there is a perception of success. After all who doesn’t want to see all of those metrics I just mentioned growing in their church? These are good things. But while numbers tell a part of the story, they don’t tell the whole story.

#2 Self-Deception

When things are going well it’s easy to believe our press clippings and give ourselves more credit than we actually deserve. We’ve all seen this happen in superstar athletes, high-powered business leaders and yes-even pastors. While there is certainly some credit that should be given due to exceptional performance and results the temptation is to deceive ourselves into believing that we are the cause of the success; that without us, success would not be reached. Be careful of self-deception and pride, the Scriptures say it precedes a fall.

#3 Neglect your Soul

Let’s be honest, it feels good to succeed. It feels good to see progress. It feels good when you hear people telling you what a good sermon you preached or what a good job you’re going leading the church. It feels good. But it’s possible to chase that feeling at the neglect of your own soul. It’s possible to fall more in love with church growth than the church. It’s possible to run to the Scriptures more frequently to find a sermon to preach than to personally spend time with God and hear his voice. It’s possible to neglect your own soul while doing soul work.

#4 Relational Isolation

Relational isolation is a choice. You’re as lonely as you want to be.

In his book Leading on Empty author Wayne Cordiero puts it this way: “Solitude is a chosen separation for refining your soul. Isolation is what you crave when you neglect the first.”

When we experience numerical success in our church, chose to believe our press clippings, pursue more success in ministry at the neglect of our own souls, and get ourselves in a place where we are lonely we have followed a recipe that leads to the downfall of our lives and the ministry that the Lord has entrusted to us.

“Having talked to some whose ministry has come crashing down around them, I can tell you the convergence of outward success, self-deception, soul neglect, and relational isolation creates the perfect storm for disaster”

Posted in Spiritual Formation


How to Manage the Tension between Work and Rest

In the beginning, even before the fall of mankind, God created both work and rest (you can check out Genesis 1-3 for all the details). Both were helpful, both were holy, and both were enjoyed by and benefited man. After the fall of mankind everything was messed up, including mankind’s ideas and inclinations about work and rest. This tension still plagues us today, including church leaders. Our tendency in different seasons of leadership is to lean into one or the other more than we are designed to. And if not caught early it can do damage to our souls and ultimately the ministries that we are charged with leading.


  • Personal ambition: When our ambition for growth as church leaders surpasses our ambition for God, there’s a problem.
  • High Expectations: When fast-charging and high-driving church leaders have set their vision and expectations higher for themselves and their ministries than God does, there’s a problem.
  • Selfish Gain: When we become consumed by our work and our identity as church leaders becomes rooted in our work rather than in God, there’s a problem.


  • Discouragement: When church leaders fall into discouragement and shrink back because things aren’t going the way they think they should be going, there’s a problem.
  • Emotional Weight: When church leaders pick up and begin to carry the emotional weight of the team, the outcomes of the vision, and the expectations of people in the church, there’s a problem.
  • Laziness: When church leaders over spiritualize the concepts of faith and dependency upon the Holy Spirit to work and avoid working hard themselves, there’s a problem.

When our hearts call too much for one or the other, something is off in us. We’ve been chasing after something that we were never intended to pursue. It should be an indicator to us that it’s time to return to the mission and return to God.

Photo Credit: CyboRoZ via Compfight cc

Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation


A Large Multisite Church in Phoenix is Hiring a Preteen Pastor

I’m pleased to announce a new Staff Search. Sun Valley Community Church, the church I have the honor of serving at, is beginning a national search for a Preteen Pastor to lead the ministry to 5th & 6th grade students on our Gilbert Campus. Sun Valley began as a church plant in 1990 in Chandler, Arizona. Over the years Sun Valley has grown into a large mult-site church in the Phoenix metro area. Currently there are three campuses located in Gilbert, Tempe and Casa Grande with a total weekend attendance of over 5,000 people. Sun Valley was recently named by Outreach Magazine as one of the top 10 fastest growing churches in America. The Gilbert Campus is the original and largest campus with well over 3,500 in weekly average attendance. Sun Valley was recently featured in a new book by Leadership Network about church mergers: Better Together: Making Church Mergers Work. To learn more about that story click here Part-1 and Part-2.

Interested in learning more? Continue reading below:

Continue Reading…

Posted in Staffing


9 Big Decisions that will Change your Church

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to sit down with a group of Executive Pastors who are serving in churches of 5,000+ and during the conversation I heard them talk about some of the best decisions they’ve made over the recent history of their churches that have made the greatest impact. I thought I’d share some of those thoughts here with you and give you the opportunity to learn from some incredible leaders that are in the trenches! Could it be that one of these decisions is the one that will make all the difference this year at your church?

1. Define our Staff Culture

Many churches have cultural values but haven’t taken the time to define what they’re looking for in a leadership or staff culture. While you can spend a lot of time and energy on this, a simple place to start is to simply make a list of your top 10 employees (regardless of role or seniority) and why they’re your top-10. That’s the culture you’re looking for. This is a great exercise to do as a Senior Leadership Team.

2. Bust up Ministry Silos

Many churches are more like a collection of different ministries operating under one roof competing for building space, staffing, volunteers, and budget resources than they are a singularly focused team aligned to take on a God-sized vision. Trying to cut through the ministry silos at your church? This blog series from my friend and teammate at the Unstuck Group, Tony Morgan, will help.

3. Participate in the “Best Christian Workplace” Survey

The Best Christian Workplaces Institute started with a question: “What makes an exceptional place to work?” Mentioned by Bill Hybles at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit, this survey will help you diagnose and improve the organizational health of your church.

4. Hire someone to Focus on Stewardship

Hire someone to put full-time attention on finances. Not a CFO but rather someone to develop revenue. Put them in charge of developing and implementing a holistic generosity strategy at your church. Chances are they’ll pay for themselves in the first 6 months – or less.

5. Move to a Teaching Team Model

Instead of relying on just one communicator develop a teaching team. This doesn’t mean using the weekend service to develop a young communicator or experiment on your people. There are plenty of other venues in the church to do that. When done well this allows your church to hear multiple voices, personalities, and approaches to the scriptures. When working together properly they strengthen the weekly message and one guy doesn’t have to shoulder the grind of hitting a home run every week!

6. Lean into the Lead Pastor

The Lead Pastor sets the culture, plain and simple. So as a Sr. Leadership Team take the time to figure out what makes the Lead Pastor tick. What’s most important to them, what’s least important to them? What’s their approach and style? Lean into that and build on it organizationally.

7. Expand the Sr. Leadership Team

Centralizing everything through one person slows things down. While someone has to lead the Sr. Leadership Team, a team needs to be built because you can’t know everything or make every decision – or you become the lid. But then again staffing models are only as good as the people that are on the team, the personalities that are at the top, and the culture of the church. Healthy churches hold onto their organizational structure loosely – because they’re growing and they know it’s going to require flexibility.

8. Develop a Residency Program

Great churches develop leaders. Intentionally charting out a clear path to develop future leaders including a volunteer leadership pipeline, an internship program, or residency. One church built a 2 year residency for degreed pastors in training to get the practical experience they need to lead a church. Not only do they send out equipped pastors but they get the opportunity to hire people who understand their culture because they’ve been in it for 2 years!

9. Hire a Consulting Firm

Having the fresh perspective of outside professionals who know what it means to lead in the trenches of the local church and bring years of experience of working with forward moving churches to the table is one of the best decisions a Sr. Leadership Team can make. I’m not biased or anything but I know a great Consulting Group that I’d recommend. Check out the Unstuck Group!

What’s the best decision you’ve made at your church this last year that’s made the greatest impact? What decision do you need to make this year that will make the greatest impact in the future? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment!

Photo Credit: Rusty Clark via Compfight cc

Posted in Leadership


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
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