Tag Archive - ministry

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Are you a Perfectionist or a Leader?

There’s a big difference between a perfectionist and a leader. One draws people to a cause and the other repels them. While perfectionists may be adept at pointing out opportunities for improvement few people will want to join them in the process of improving things. I’m sure you don’t know any perfectionistic church leaders and I know you’re not one. But just in-case you ever come across one, here’s a few thoughts that may be helpful.

  • When you lead with handing out instructions you don’t put yourself in a position to be instructed.
  • If no one can do it as good as you then no one will be doing it but you. Perfectionism is lonely and is a lid to organizational growth.
  • You know who listens to a know-it-all? No one.
  • Perfectionism is the enemy of innovation.
  • You can’t play it safe and follow Jesus. The very essence of following Jesus is going somewhere you’ve never been before.
  • High control leads to low trust. By the way, you know control is an illusion right? The only thing you can really control is your effort and your attitude.
  • If you wait for the perfect plan you’ll never get out of the gate.
  • Good enough is good enough for good leaders.
  • Leaders care too much about results and progress to be paralyzed by waiting on the perfect next step (or first step).
  • Perfectionism is the low road and the easy way out. Leadership requires developing others, and allowing others to do it differently than you (maybe even fail, yikes!). It’s way harder!
  • Imagine if Jesus acted like a perfectionist with you. He doesn’t criticize you when you don’t do it perfectly. He really could do it better than you and He still invites you to join Him in shepherding His church.

Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation

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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.

Unfortunately these leadership transitions often result in unnecessary damage to both the ministry staff person and the church because there was no plan in place when it came time for the leader to leave. I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember any class in Bible College or the latest ministry conference I attended that helped prepare ministry leaders to leave well.

I think we would all quickly agree that leaving well saves a lot of heartache for all involved. What we might not consider is that the way we leave affects the place we are going just as much as the place we are leaving. If you supervise staff, the same principle applies. How ministry staff exit your team affects the ministry they are going to just as much as it effects your ministry.

I recently had coffee with a long time leader in college ministry named Mike who shared about his upcoming retirement and his organization’s plan for helping him leave his position well. At its heart, the strategy is about leverage leaving for a greater future impact. There are four steps.

1. Release

The first step is to prepare to release responsibility and relationships in your current position. The ministry leaders I know, give 110% and devote themselves to the people they serve. This makes releasing especially difficult when it comes time to transition. Before exiting the position, prepare yourself or your staff member to let go and not be surprised at the very normal loss that comes with the change in roles. There is also a normal desire to want to protect that ministry, which may cause a leader to hold on too tightly or stay involved too long. If you are leaving a position but not leaving the church, releasing will mean being strategically uninvolved in that particular ministry area until new leadership is established. Fully letting go of the responsibilities and authority of that position will also help you have both hands free to grab hold of what God wants next for you.

2. Rest

The second step is to rest. When moving from one position to the next, sometimes we don’t leave any cushion between past and future. Typically, we have some room to negotiate when it comes to start dates as we move into a new position. Strategically schedule time to rest and refresh during the transition. You need it. When you schedule time to rest, really rest. We’re only fooling ourselves if we take a week off, but use that time to read the latest book on church growth while sketching out a strategic plan for the next 90 days of ministry. Those are actually good things, but not rest. Do things that fill your tank and give you energy. If you are in a supervisory role and you can do it, give your staff member that is exiting financial support as they take time to rest.

3. Refocus

The third step is to refocus. It’s important to ask good questions during the transition. What are my areas of strength and God given talent? What do I love doing? What changes have occurred in me during the last stretch of ministry that have taught me about my unique call to ministry? If you are married, ask your spouse, “What do you think I am best suited for in ministry?” Schedule time to pray, journal and get counsel from those you trust. I believe God wants to give us the gift of insight when we leave a ministry position. This is true whether you are leaving because of your decision or the church’s decision. Take advantage of it. Also, if it has been a painful leave, there are many retreat centers across the nation to help ministry leaders gain clarity and healing as they begin the next chapter. Practically speaking, this could also be a time to invest in some personality or leadership style assessments, get needed training and put more tools in your ministry tool belt.

4. Reengage

Finally, move forward and reengage. This starts by reengaging with the people in your new area of ministry. If you had great friends in your previous setting it can be hard to do the work of establishing new relationships. The reason you had close relationships in the previous church is probably not because they were more loving and nicer people. It’s probably because you did the hard work to connect, get to know them and have shared experiences. Take the bull by the horns on this one and start building new relationships. This is key to leading well. You cannot lead well if you don’t love well. You also have to reengage when it comes to the culture and systems of your new environment. You can’t just bring everything you did in the previous church and apply it to this new setting. A good leader learns the culture and contextualizes leadership in that culture. Here is a quick tip. Principles transfer much more effectively than programs. Principles about people and leadership are typically universal.

If you are transitioning into a new position, leverage leaving for greater future impact. Release. Rest. Refocus. Reengage. Everyone involved will be healthier for it.


This is a guest post by Brian LaMew who serves as the Pastor of Campus Development at Sun Valley Community Church where he provides leadership to Sun Valley’s Campus Pastors. You can keep up with Brian on Twitter or Facebook.


Posted in Leadership, Staffing

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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.”

In helping churches get unstuck and make vision real I’ve run across a number of insider focused ministry names. In fact here’s a link to a post with a free tool that you can use as you begin to evaluate your own ministry names and language you’re using in your church. Remember it’s always more important to be clear than clever. Here’s a quick list of 10 insider focused ministry names to give you an idea of what I’m talking about.

Nation2Nine: A Young Adult Ministry in a church targeting people age 20-29. While it may be clear to people inside the church what this is, it doesn’t say anything to people outside of the church.

Romeo: “Real Old Men Eating Out,” a once a week gathering of old men who eat out together and talk about God’s Word together. Acronyms are the quintessential example of insider language. If your name or brand needs an explanation it’s not clear enough.

Men on Fire: A Men’s Ministry at a church. The only problem is people outside of the church don’t think the same way or have the same filter as people inside the church. While “church people” notoriously talk about being “on fire” for Jesus, that brand may elude to something different in the minds of people outside of the church.

Chicks with Sticks: A Quilting Ministry in a church. Yes this is real. This one came from one of the participants from a recent Leadership Coaching Network that I led. It was too good not to include in this list. Let’s just say people outside of the church aren’t thinking the same things as people inside of the church when they see this ministry name.

Girlfriends Unlimited: A Women’s Ministry in a church. Again while this may be clear to people inside the church any single 20-something young man is going to sign up for this one in a heartbeat. What young man who doesn’t know Jesus doesn’t want to sign up for unlimited girlfriends?

XYZ: “Extra Years of Zest,” a ministry to Senior Adults. This is another example of an acronym that doesn’t mean anything to anyone who isn’t an insider.

Body Builders: A Bible Study at a church. It may seem cute but when an outsider sees that name they’re probably going to be asking you where the gym is.

MOPS: “Mothers of Preschoolers,” a ministry to mothers of preschoolers…or is it a cleaning ministry? Again…acronyms are dangerous.

Equally Yoked: A Marriage Ministry at a church…or an egg ministry. Outsiders have no idea what the scriptures say so be careful about using Biblical names like this.

JAM: “Jesus and Me,” the name of a Student Ministry at a church…cute…just not clear.

This post has consistently been the most popular post I’ve written over the 6 years I’ve been blogging. A lot of people end up at this site because they’re searching Google trying to find a cool name to call the new ministry at their church. I rarely re-post old content (this post is 3 years old), but the principle in this post is still relevant today…and I keep coming across insider-focused ministry names and language at churches I consult with. Why can’t churches just call things what they are and make language accessible to people who are unfamiliar with Jesus and His Church?

I’d love to hear other examples that you’ve run across in your ministry experience, so leave a comment.


Posted in Leadership

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4 Common Church Merger Mistakes

The thought of a church merging with another church had never crossed my mind 20 years ago when I started full time ministry. Mergers were something companies did, not churches. But if you’re paying attention to what’s happening in church-world, mergers are becoming more and more common. And I don’t think it’s a trend that’s going away anytime soon.

There are a lot of good reasons that two churches might choose to merge together. After being a part of two separate church mergers and both coaching other churches through the process and observing other mergers happen around the country I thought I’d take the time to share four common church merger mistakes that I see happening.

1. Trying to Blend the Culture of the Two Churches

Trying to blend the culture of two different churches is like trying to do a blended worship style on Sunday morning services. By trying to make everybody happy you end up making nobody happy. In the most successful church mergers one church culture leads the way and washes over the other church culture.

2. Not having a Plan for One of the Two Sr. Pastors

Many times in a church merger there are two Sr. Pastors involved, one from each church. When there’s not a clear plan for one of those to Sr. Pastors to exit it can lead to a conflict of loyalty and confusion of the vision. There needs to be a clear plan of what the Sr. Pastor who won’t be leading this newly merger church is going to do. Which one stays and which one goes, and why?

3. Keeping Staff that you Shouldn’t

Often times in a church merger the joining church has been stuck or in decline for a significant period of time and the lead church has momentum and has been growing for some time. The staff culture of those two kids of churches is significantly different. The kind of staff that can serve at a church that is stuck or in decline for a long period of time are not wired to serve in a fast growing church. Don’t keep them on staff longer than you should or you’ll unnecessarily slow the cultural transition of the merger and create disunity and conflict.

4. Taking a Ministry Menu Approach

Again, in an attempt to keep everybody happy I’ve seen some churches that merge refuse to stop doing the ministries that they were doing before the merger took place. Instead of taking the best of both merging church ministries and maximizing those ministries, they simply add to the ministry menu by offering everything that each individual church was previously doing. I know that shutting down a ministry can be difficult to lead through, but leading a church that is overextended and trying to be all things to all people is even more difficult to lead. Strategically choose which ministries will continue after the merger happens, before the merger happens.


Posted in Leadership, Staffing

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A Large Multisite Church in Phoenix is Hiring a Small Group 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 Small Group Pastor to serve on our Tempe 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 area. Currently there are four campuses located in Casa Grande, East Mesa, Gilbert, and Tempe and with a fifth campus opening in the fall of 2016 in Queen Creek. Together nearly 7,000 people attend a Sun Valley Campus each weekend. The Tempe campus was the result of a merger in the Fall of 2011 with Bethany Community Church. In the merger, Sun Valley acquired a 16-acre, 8-building campus with over 100,000 sq. ft. under roof. At present, the campus attendance averages more than 1,200 people a week, but when fully utilized, the campus capacity will accommodate more than 6,000 people. Sun Valley has been featured in a book by Leadership Network about church mergers: Better Together: Making Church Mergers Work, and has been named by Outreach Magazine as one of the 100 fastest growing churches in the nation. To learn more about that story click here Part-1 and Part-2.

Interested in learning more? Continue reading below: Continue Reading…


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Staffing
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